More than 1,500 electric cooperative leaders from across the country participated in the NRECA Legislative Conference this week (April 20-23). While the annual conference typically includes a full schedule of in-person meetings with members of Congress in their Washington, D.C. offices, ongoing coronavirus restrictions required all appointments to be held virtually this year.
Michigan used two teams of managers, staff and directors to deliver the co-op message on priority issues. Team members included: Tony Anderson and Gabe Schneider (Cherryland Electric Cooperative); Tom Sobeck and Sandy Borowicz (Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op); Chris O’Neill, Brandon Trierweiler, and John Lord (HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative); Dallas Braun (Thumb Electric Cooperative); Craig Borr, Doug Snitgen, Katie Deller, Lindsay Elsholz, and Casey Clark (MECA). Louis Finkel, Kelly Wismer, Hill Thomas, and Bridgette Bourge (NRECA) also participated in several meetings.
The teams’ schedules included virtual meetings with Sen. Gary Peters, and Reps. John Moolenaar, Jack Bergman, Tim Walberg, and Fred Upton, as well as with legislative staff for the offices of Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Reps. Peter Meijer, Debbie Dingell, Bill Huizenga, Dan Kildee, Lisa McClain, and Elissa Slotkin.
Co-op representatives stressed three advocacy priorities at the meetings, asking members of Congress to:
- Cosponsor and pass the Flexible Financing for Rural America Act (H.R. 2244 / S. 978), which would allow co-ops to refinance Rural Utilities Service (RUS) loans to current low-interest rates.
- Promote advanced energy technology by allowing co-op access to tax incentives.
- Promote rural broadband expansion with targeted federal funding to unserved and underserved communities
“It’s best when we can build these relationships in-person,” said Craig Borr, MECA President/CEO, “But, we were able to have meaningful and productive virtual meetings with our policymakers, and the feedback has been very positive.”
More information about the NRECA Legislative Conference, including full Fact Sheets for each of the priority issues, can be found at cooperative.com