Our Supreme Power
When our founding
fathers crafted the United States Constitution and formed our republic,
they gave voters a lot of responsibility. Our republic is a nation in
which the supreme power rests in the citizens entitled to vote and is
exercised by elected representatives directly responsible to those same
In everyday terms
the definition means we who are entitled to vote must communicate
frequently with those we elect.
Our members of Congress
have been hearing a lot from electric cooperative members as they deal
with a comprehensive energy bill moving quickly through the U. S. Congress.
Because of the energy bills broad scope, our elected officials are
being lobbied hard by dozens of interest groups each with a huge stake
in its outcome.
Because we benefit
greatly from a high-voltage
transmission system built and paid for by us, we do not want the Congress
to give the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) control over the
electrical system we use to serve ourselves. Some in Congress want to
transfer our local control to FERC so consumers outside our state can
benefit from our low-cost electricity.
Those who know the
electric power business compare a high-voltage power line to a water pipe.
That is, we can only push so much water/electricity through either in
a given time period.
As we explain our
legislative position in those terms, we say we need a large part of the
existing transmission line pipe to deliver electricity to
our Missouri consumers. The energy bill in Congress refers to this critical
service to electric co-op members as native load.
It makes sense that
only the excess capacity of the conductor owned by Missouri consumers
should be made available to those who want to transfer electric power
through our pipe to make money for themselves. We need to
make sure native load will continue to have priority use of the system.
The Electricity Title
in the energy bill would also heap costly and unneeded FERC regulation
on small consumer-owned electric utilities. Ironically, the same measure
removes regulation from the large utilities and marketers who have proven
they need it the most.
Please write a letter
to U.S. Sens. Kit Bond and Jim
Talent and your U. S. representative
at their local office before you turn your reading lamp off. Ask them
to support language in the electricity section of the energy bill that
would protect our ability to serve native load.
In addition, ask them
to support language that would exempt consumer-owned electric cooperatives
from costly and unneeded FERC regulation. They will know exactly what
you are asking them to do.
in our republic, appreciate any effort we make to communicate with them.
They are keenly aware that the supreme power of our state and nation rests
with those entitled to vote. And, they do want to hear from us. They cannot
act in our best interest if we dont let them know what we need.
Stork was executive
vice president of the Association of Missouri
Electric Cooperatives and a member of Three Rivers Electric Co-op.