Electric co-op leaders take their concerns to Congress

U.S. Rep. Bob Latta, R-Bowling Green (right), discusses energy policy with (clockwise from bottom) Midwest Electric’s Matt Berry, Lorain-Medina/North Central’s Markus Bryant, Union Rural Electric Cooperative’s Mike Aquillo, OEC’s Pat O’Loughlin, and Lorain-Medina Rural Electric Cooperative’s Richard Indoe.

Ohio electric cooperative trustees and employees took their policy priorities to Capitol Hill at the NRECA Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C.

Co-op leaders from dozens of states joined Ohio’s delegation for the annual conference, which focused this year on building momentum from the successful Co-ops Vote campaign during the 2016 election.

“Rural America stood up with a louder voice than before,” said Jim Matheson, president and CEO of NRECA in an address to Legislative Conference attendees. “In a time of uncertainty, it’s all the more important for us to remain at the table, be active participants in the policy environment, and assert ourselves as the voice of American consumers.”

In personal meetings with legislators and their aides, Ohio’s attendees discussed a broad range of policy topics, including obvious areas of concern, like rolling back EPA regulations and protecting the Rural Utilities Service loan program, to under-the-radar issues impacting cooperatives, such as federal land management policy and the Cadillac tax on health insurance plans.

“Our co-ops face an array of policy issues – issues that affect our ability to deliver reliable, affordable power to our members, but also issues that can make it difficult for co-ops to provide for their hardworking employees,” said Marc Armstrong, OEC director of government affairs. “It’s important that our policymakers are aware of all these issues and not just the ones that make headlines.”