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Rural Missouri Magazine

Keep it clean, keep it affordable

AMEC executive vice president Barry Hart
by Barry Hart

by Barry Hart

A retiree. A marina owner. A school administrator. A college student. A theme park operator. A musician. A food pantry manager. A child, a father and a college student. Normally these people would not have much in common. But on a moving video put together by White River Valley Electric Cooperative, these members of the cooperative speak out about the need for affordable and reliable electricity.

Across the nation, electric co-op members are voicing their concerns to members of Congress who are debating climate change legislation. They are speaking up because they fear the changes being considered right now could have a profound affect on the price of electricity. What they are telling Congress is this: “Keep our energy clean, but keep it affordable.”

To help members create a dialogue with their elected officials, the electric cooperatives started the Our Energy, Our Future campaign in 2008. Since that time, 1.7 million e-mails and letters have been sent to Congress, with Missouri leading all states.
That effort continues in 2009, with the need for you to get involved now even more important. I wanted to bring you up to speed on where this effort is headed and why it is so urgent that you take part.

Right now Congress is considering climate change legislation, and the proposals they are looking at could have a dramatic impact on the price you pay for the electricity that powers your life. In fact, one proposal would have Wall Street speculators decide how much more you will pay for electricity. Another would add $50 a month to the average electric bill.

One co-op member responded to that proposal by saying, “Anyone who doesn’t think $50 a month is too much should try living in my shoes.”

The direction of the Our Energy campaign in 2009 is to put the voices of real people with the messages. From White River Valley’s college student we hear that a major increase in her electric bill might mean forgetting college and moving back home. From the small-business owner in that tourism-based Branson economy, we hear how higher electric bills might prompt families to cancel vacations, impacting the economy of the entire state.

Should the food pantry see its bills skyrocket, the hard-pressed families that use its services will have to do without. The father contemplates his wife having to return to work instead of caring for their newborn, while the retiree spoke of turning down the thermostat even more. The school administrator worries about the school’s finances in addition to the impact on parents already struggling to pay for school lunches.

You can find this video and others addressing the Our Energy movement on www.ourenergy.coop, YouTube.com, Facebook.com and the White River Valley Electric’s Web site, www.whiteriver.org.

The directors and employees at your local electric cooperative are fighting to keep rates down. But this is one area that is out of their control and in the hands of our legislators.
With your help, we can convince them to work with electric cooperatives to not only deal with the climate change issue but to do so in such a way that electricity remains an affordable and reliable resource.

The question we are putting to Congress through the Our Energy campaign is this: Will you please work with the electric cooperatives to be sure public policy meets my need for affordable electricity?

Your electric co-op needs to have a seat at the table to push Congress toward a common-sense solution to the climate change issue. Let’s use our democratic process. Let’s make sure our elected officials hear from us. And let’s keep those bills affordable.
Even if you did so last year, please log on to www.ourenergy.coop or contact your electric co-op for help in getting involved. While you are at it, tell them how a dramatic increase in rates would affect 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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