Our Energy, Our Future by RobbiePaul


									Our Energy,
  Our Future
                           Speaking before more than 9,000 local co-op              urged co-op leaders to look beyond the polarizing
                           leaders from around the nation, Glenn English,           rhetoric and become engaged in a fast tracked
                           CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative           policy debate that will bring “seismic change to the
                           Association (NRECA), warned that federal climate         electricity business.”
Below: Dakota Energy       change legislation will be terribly expensive and            The former 10-term Congressman from Oklaho-
Cooperative manager        make electric bills less affordable for consumers. He    ma told the crowd that Representative Henry Wax-
Ken Gates, left, and       asked the assembled: “How will we respond?”              man, chairman of House Energy and Commerce
Central Electric Cooper-       The answer he proposed should be to engage           Committee, had set an ambitious agenda to move
ative director Darwin      with co-op member-consumers, to share with them          an energy and climate change bill that sets federal
“Butch” Morrison, cast     the real life impact that changes in the industry will   carbon dioxide targets by the Memorial Day recess.
their cooperative’s
                           have on their power bills and to enlist them as grass-       “We have 90 days in which to maximize our
votes on a resolution
                           roots advocates for affordable energy and climate        strength,” said English. “Ninety days to demonstrate
during the National
Rural Electric Coopera-    policies.                                                to elected officials in Congress that affordability is
tive Association’s an-         “Barring any monumental shift in the prevailing      something they must take into consideration.”
nual business meeting      attitude of Congress,” he said, “we will soon see car-       He predicted that any success co-ops have in pro-
in New Orleans, La.        bon dioxide regulated at the federal level.” English     tecting consumers from excessive increases in their

                                                                                                         Left: NRECA CEO Glenn English addresses at-
                                                                                                         tendees at the NRECA annual meeting in New
                                                                                                         Orleans, La. Below: Whetstone Valley Electric
                                                                                                         director David Behrns, right, reviews proposed
                                                                                                         resolutions before voting during the NRECA busi-
                                                                                                         ness meeting.

electric bills would be in direct propor-            cost increases and providing near-term              more than 900 private, not-for-profit,
tion to the amount of political strength             certainty to an industry in transition.             consumer-owned electric cooperatives,
they could demonstrate in Washington.                “In the end, it is the responsibility of our        which provide service to 42 million
The Senate Leadership and new adminis-               elected officials to pass taxes – not pass           people in 47 states.
tration share Chairman Waxman’s agenda               the buck.”                                             English made his comments at the
for fast-tracked legislation to mitigate                English implored the association’s               NRECA annual meeting, Feb. 15-18, in
carbon dioxide emissions, said the co-op             co-op membership to adapt to the new                New Orleans, La. At the meeting, del-
leader who lamented that current, politi-            political landscape and to embrace their            egates set NRECA’s legislative and orga-
cally expedient, cap-and-trade proposals             role as consumer advocates, engaging their          nizational agenda for 2009. In addition
amount to turning consumer electric bills            member-consumers and working with                   to considering and acting upon policy
over to Wall Street. “Any way you go,                Congress to find solutions that will help            resolutions, delegates receive reports from
this is a tax, either through cap-and-trade          keep electricity affordable for all Ameri-          NRECA officials, hear addresses by key
or a straight carbon tax,” said English.             cans. Co-op members and others are urged            public figures and business experts, and
“A carbon tax is the honest, straightfor-            to visit www.ourenergy.coop to send their           attend panel sessions on major issues
ward way to do it.” A carbon tax, he said            story to Congress.                                  affecting electric cooperatives and their
would have multiple advantages; ensur-                  The National Rural Electric Coopera-             consumer owners.
ing transparency of application, enabling            tive Association is the national service
consumer advocates to directly track                 organization that represents the nation’s

South Dakota’s Youth Leadership Council representative Rebecca Naasz
donned a colonial-era costume to attract attention to the Congressional
Action Center set up at the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association    Moreau-Grand Electric Cooperative director Alan Johnson, right, presents his
annual meeting. At the center, co-op members could send messages to Con-       voting credentials to the Sergeant-At-Arms at the NRECA business meeting
gress. The Platte-Geddes High School senior represented Charles Mix Electric   in New Orleans, La. The meeting is where the nation’s electric cooperatives
Association, Lake Andes, on the 2008 Rural Electric Youth Tour.                set their legislative agenda.

                                                                                                           COOPERATIVE CONNECTIONS • April 2009 11

To top