The power of the grassroots

Battle-hardened warriors: That’s one way to describe the huge grassroots army of electric cooperative members who have helped us ensure electricity remains affordable and reliable in Missouri. And that army includes many of you.

My favorite events put on by Missouri’s electric cooperatives are the two legislative conferences — one in Jefferson City and the other in Washington, D.C. — that bring some of this army together to talk issues with our elected officials. I always leave those gatherings feeling confident about the future of electric cooperatives due to the warm welcome from legislators.

Their feelings toward us reflect the fact that electric cooperatives exist not to make a profit but to provide a service. Also, every elected official representing Missourians knows that electric cooperatives are governed by the members themselves.

When you throw in the strong support from hundreds of thousands of electric cooperative members like you, Co-op Nation is a force to be reckoned with in the political arena. Even urban legislators who don’t represent a lot of electric cooperative members welcome us on our visits. They want to get the rural perspective as they work to make balanced decisions for our state and nation.

This year, our political involvement appears to be even more important than ever. Those who attended the state legislative conference were given a lengthy update on issues we are following in the statehouse.

Of the 1,734 bills filed as this issue goes to press, we are watching more than 300 and paying extremely close attention to 75. Our objective, as always, is to ensure electric cooperative members are treated fairly in any new legislation. When a proposed bill or initiative petition would benefit a special-interest group at the expense of our members, we are quick to expose the flaws to our elected officials.

Our attention to federal legislation is equally important. Over the years, we have come to you for help on a number of issues crucial to our continued ability to provide low-cost electricity, and your response has made all the difference. The 600,000 cards and emails you sent helped us fight off costly cap-and-trade legislation. More recently, you flooded the Environmental Protection Agency with 300,000-plus comments on its Clean Power Plan.

And your tens of thousands of comments let Attorney General Chris Koster know he had strong support when he joined 28 other states in suing EPA over its Clean Power Plan.

I am pleased to report that, even though EPA ignored your comments, the U.S. Supreme Court voted to stay this costly plan. This is great news for all consumers.

Had this stay not been granted, electric cooperatives would have been forced to take costly and irreversible steps to comply with this rule. We would have spent your money to make changes to meet regulations that could later be thrown out by the courts.

The plan singled out Missouri and other low-cost electricity states with rules that would have crippled our lowest-cost power generation resource.

While the Clean Power Plan cannot go into effect until the courts make a final ruling on its legality, the battle isn’t over. You can be confident your electric cooperative will stay close to what happens in federal court. As soon as the rulings are handed down, we will communicate what happened and how it will impact you.

Our work in the legislative arena is done on your behalf, and our success would not be possible without your support. Thanks to everyone who spoke up on these weighty issues.


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