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Rural Missouri Magazine

Thanks for your help

AMEC executive vice president Barry Hart
by Barry Hart

by Barry Hart

Thank you, Missouri! That’s what I have been hearing from the people in charge of the “Our Energy, Our Future” campaign at the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

To refresh your memory, that program was launched recently by our national association because virtually no one was looking out for the consumer in the debate on how to curb emissions of greenhouse gases.

At no time in my rural electric career can I remember an issue more important to the members of electric cooperatives. Some of the solutions being discussed have the potential to solve the problem — or break the backs of the economy and consumers if someone doesn’t start asking the tough questions.

So last month we asked you to become part of the debate by logging on to www.ourenergy.coop and sending an e-mail to your elected officials. It was our hope these e-mails would show up in force just as a delegation of grassroots electric cooperative leaders traveled to Washington for the annual NRECA Legislative Conference.

That’s exactly what happened.

Missouri is now second in the nation in the number of e-mails sent, and we are just getting started.

Led by Barry Electric Cooperative, where almost 100 percent of members attending the annual meeting got involved, and Howell-Oregon Electric Cooperative, which saw similar participation, Missourians are speaking their minds like never before.

The importance of these communications became apparent in a conversation with our national association. One member of Congress called to get information on the electric co-op position because of the contacts that had been made. This lawmaker had received just two e-mails from his constituents.

It stands to reason that if we can get the attention of one elected official with two e-mails, think of the reaction from Sens. Kit Bond and Claire McCaskill, who have received thousands. Both senators told us in person that they appreciate hearing from the folks back home.

Last month, 52 Missourians joined nearly 3,000 other co-op leaders who traveled to Washington united in a single cause: urging Congress to protect safe, reliable and affordable electricity. Co-op leaders from Missouri visited the offices of every member of our congressional delegation.

They were glad to see us. They always want to hear from us because they know we represent the grassroots voice of rural consumers.

During our visits, we pointed out that it is tempting to latch on to a single, easy solution to reducing carbon emissions. There are some who believe we can solve the problem with energy-efficiency programs, more renewable energy or by drastically raising the cost of electricity. The reality is that these options — along with clean-coal technology, nuclear power, plug-in hybrid cars and more — must be part of the plan and the plan must be well thought out and consider Missouri’s fragile economy and consumers. We told Missouri’s congressional leaders drastically increasing electric rates to force conservation was not a solution you wanted.

While in Washington, I took our message to the airwaves during interviews with radio stations in Springfield and other areas of Missouri. My message focused on the fact that Congress must devote the resources necessary to research, develop and deploy new technologies that will allow the utility industry to meet the needs of consumers without crippling the economy.

We asked our congressional delegation to provide leadership in this crucial time, when America’s energy future hangs in the balance. Rest assured, the electric cooperatives in the nation and Missouri will do their part to find a solution that won’t put the burden on you.

Hart is executive vice president of the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives.

E-mail Barry Hart

 

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Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives

Rural Missouri
2722 E. McCarty Street
P.O. Box 1645 • Jefferson City, Mo. 65102
573-659-3423

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