The energy of grassroots
A group of 35 rural
electric cooperative representatives will join delegates from other states
in Washington, D.C., the first week in May. The group will be in town
for its annual grassroots lobbying effort to ensure reliable and adequate
electric power for rural America.I
am privileged to be a member of the group.
During my 40-year
career in the rural electrification industry, the political dynamics of
providing low-cost energy for rural America have never been more complex.
The United States Congress has been trying to get its collective arms
around a comprehensive energy bill for more than three years.
Over that period,
they have consistently come up a few votes short. A whole new approach
to a federal energy bill will be taken up and debated on the Senate floor
this month. Our Missouri REC grassroots team will watch the legislation
closely to ensure consumers in rural America don’t get the short
end of the stick.
delegation is supportive of rural electric cooperative efforts. They find
our position easy to support because we don’t ask for much.
We support continued
self reliance and the ability to plan, construct and manage our consumer-owned
electric utility. We show our members of Congress how we can do this without
putting a burden on anyone else. We point out our aim is to pass legislation
that will benefit all electric consumers in our region. We find our consumer/grassroots
outline for energy legislation to be a powerful message. It is powerful
because our team articulates our position clearly, sincerely and enthusiastically.
Opposition for our
electric cooperative plan comes from those who want to transfer control
of our locally owned electric power system to the Federal Energy Regulatory
Commis-sion. If that were to happen, FERC would force our local system
into a regional control group that would have no direct responsibility
to provide reliable and low-cost electric power to rural Missouri. The
ill-conceived concept is motivated by short sightedness and greed.
Its promoters come
from the same school as those who supported deregulation plans which allowed
pricing manipulation and huge consumer rip-offs!
Within our republic
form of government, supreme power rests in those entitled to vote and
is exercised by those we elect. Our representative government depends
on grassroots input during the legislative process. In the case of the
energy bill, the process is the floor debate in the United States Senate.
We know our grassroots
team and our rural consumers will respond positively when asked to communicate
with those they elect. They routinely and eagerly take part in the legislative
process because they understand their involvement is an essential ingredient
for good government. The energy of grassroots input is vital to the shaping
of a national energy policy that will, first and foremost, serve the best
interest of all consumers.
was executive vice president of the Association
of Missouri Electric Cooperatives and a member of Three Rivers Electric