Rural Missouri Magazine

The energy of grassroots

Frank Stork
by Frank Stork

A group of 35 rural electric cooperative representatives will join delegates from other states in Washington, D.C., the first week in May. The group will be in town for its annual grassroots lobbying effort to ensure reliable and adequate electric power for rural America.I am privileged to be a member of the group.

During my 40-year career in the rural electrification industry, the political dynamics of providing low-cost energy for rural America have never been more complex. The United States Congress has been trying to get its collective arms around a comprehensive energy bill for more than three years.

Over that period, they have consistently come up a few votes short. A whole new approach to a federal energy bill will be taken up and debated on the Senate floor this month. Our Missouri REC grassroots team will watch the legislation closely to ensure consumers in rural America don’t get the short end of the stick.

Our congressional delegation is supportive of rural electric cooperative efforts. They find our position easy to support because we don’t ask for much.

We support continued self reliance and the ability to plan, construct and manage our consumer-owned electric utility. We show our members of Congress how we can do this without putting a burden on anyone else. We point out our aim is to pass legislation that will benefit all electric consumers in our region. We find our consumer/grassroots outline for energy legislation to be a powerful message. It is powerful because our team articulates our position clearly, sincerely and enthusiastically.

Opposition for our electric cooperative plan comes from those who want to transfer control of our locally owned electric power system to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commis-sion. If that were to happen, FERC would force our local system into a regional control group that would have no direct responsibility to provide reliable and low-cost electric power to rural Missouri. The ill-conceived concept is motivated by short sightedness and greed.

Its promoters come from the same school as those who supported deregulation plans which allowed pricing manipulation and huge consumer rip-offs!

Within our republic form of government, supreme power rests in those entitled to vote and is exercised by those we elect. Our representative government depends on grassroots input during the legislative process. In the case of the energy bill, the process is the floor debate in the United States Senate.

We know our grassroots team and our rural consumers will respond positively when asked to communicate with those they elect. They routinely and eagerly take part in the legislative process because they understand their involvement is an essential ingredient for good government. The energy of grassroots input is vital to the shaping of a national energy policy that will, first and foremost, serve the best interest of all consumers.

Stork was executive vice president of the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives and a member of Three Rivers Electric Co-op.

Rural Missouri | June 2020 Issue

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