bill good for co-ops
As the ink from
President Bush’s signature dried on the Energy
Policy Act of 2005, electric cooperatives earned something they have
sought for 70 years: national recognition that they are different from
the rest of the electric utility industry.
worked closely with lawmakers as the new energy bill was shaped over
nine years of hard work and long hours of debate. In recognition of
this hard work and effort from electric cooperatives all over the United
States, Glenn English, CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative
Association, was asked to attend the signing of the bill in New Mexico
by President Bush.
Throughout the process
we developed and adjusted our legislative strategy to stop provisions
that would harm you and your electric co-op.
As a result, the energy bill is significant as much for what it does
not include as for what it does include.
Chief among these
was a measure that would have required AECI, the cooperative generator
of electricity for our state, to pay a crippling $126 million tax on
the coal it uses for generation. I am proud to report to you that our
senior senator from Missouri, Kit Bond, led the way to prevent you
from paying the tax.
would have required regulation of electric cooperatives by the Federal
Energy Regulatory Commission. Missouri’s legislature has always
recognized that electric cooperative regulation is best done by their
locally elected consumer board of directors. In the new law Congress
and the president have now recognized what our state legislature has
in the past.
Rep. Roy Blunt from
Missouri’s 7th Congressional
District served on the conference committee and took the lead in
keeping the control of your cooperative back home here in Missouri
and not in Washington D.C. In addition, Missouri’s
4th-District Rep. Ike Skelton helped us in conference by sending letters
supporting electric cooperative provisions to ranking minority party
members on the committee.
A major incentive
to increase the potential development of renewable energy by electric
cooperatives nationally stayed in place. Electric co-ops can now take
advantage of Clean Renewable Energy Bonds.
In essence, these
are interest-free loans used to finance qualified energy projects and
are comparable to the Production Tax Credits that investor-owned utilities
have long enjoyed.
Sen. Jim Talent took
the lead in including provisions that assist in the development of
ethanol and soy diesel fuels that could lead to more production facilities
in Missouri and improve markets for corn and soybeans for our Missouri
As the Energy Policy
Act of 2005 was shaped the nation’s
electric co-ops turned time after time to the Missouri congressional
delegation for support and were never disappointed. Virtually all
of Missouri’s delegation offered
help to make sure the legislation helped rural Missouri and
your electric cooperative.
In addition to Sens.
Bond and Talent, and Reps. Blunt and Skelton, a special thanks also
goes to Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, Rep. Sam Graves, Rep. Kenny Hulshof and
Rep. Todd Akin for their strong support of the final Energy Policy
Act of 2005 that President Bush signed.
For electric cooperatives,
this bill specifically addresses our needs, which will now be comparable
to the treatment for other electric industry sectors. When you see
these members of Missouri’s congressional delegation or their
staffs, thank them for the leadership and support of the
energy bill and their recognition that your cooperative is different.
Hart is executive
vice president of the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives.