N. Duane Noland President/CEO of the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives, Springfield.
A Call to Action
Co-ops urge members to stay in contact with Congress
If you’ve been a reader of this magazine for the last few years, or attended your co-op’s annual meeting, you’ve heard repeatedly about climate change and the impact that proposed legislation and regulation will have on your energy bill. And we’re not just talking about electricity. This could impact all your fossil fuel energy bills. The climate change legislative debate is the most challenging issue rural electric cooperatives have faced since our inception in the 1930s.
The issue is being debated in both the U.S. Congress and recently at a world conference in Copenhagen. So, climate change is front and center in the politics of our country and the world. It will have a huge impact on our economy and jobs. And it’s personal. It will have a direct impact on your monthly bills.
This is a political year with very important mid-term elections where you have a chance to vote and score how our state and federal governments are doing.
It’s a vote that matters and will affect a lot of issues – health care, our economy, national security and climate change.
Electric cooperative members like you have been engaged in this debate on climate change legislation. Your co-op asked you through a direct mail letter campaign earlier in 2009 to send post cards to our U.S. Senators expressing your concerns about climate change legislation. You said they shouldn’t pass legislation that isn’t fair, affordable and achievable. In fact, co-op members in Illinois led the nation in sending post cards to senators.
If you have doubts about the impact of your post card, I can tell you we believe there was an immediate impact. Sen. Roland Burris listened to that strong local message. He was one of 14 Senate Democrats that signed on to Iowa’s Sen. Harkin’s letter to the Senate leadership asking that the fairness issue be addressed. Under the proposed legislation, Midwest consumers would pay a huge and disproportionate share of the cost for what is a national issue. That isn’t fair.
Your voice made a difference. But this is not a sprint. This is a marathon and you have to stay engaged.
You can stay engaged by following the issues closely as the debate moves along. The climate change debate may change directions. The focus could shift to renewable energy and energy efficiency mandates.
Electric cooperatives continue to be proactive in the areas of renewable energy, energy efficiency and smart grid technology without mandates. For example, the cover feature is on geothermal energy. Illinois co-ops have taken the lead in promoting and developing a market for this technology. Co-ops have given grants to schools, churches and other public groups for geothermal projects in Illinois.
So, if you have a chance to see and talk to candidates for office, ask them where they stand on these issues. What is their position? Do they understand the cost legislation and regulation may have on you as a rural electric co-op member and owner?
The easiest way to make your voice heard is to go to our Web site – www.ourenergy.coop. Through this Web site you can let your elected representatives know where you stand and that we need fair, affordable and achievable solutions to today’s issues.
You can also be proactive by staying in touch with your local co-op. Annual meeting season begins this month and runs until September. Co-ops are democratically controlled, member-owned businesses. As an owner, it’s imperative that you attend the business meeting, elect local directors that will represent you and understand the issues and challenges facing your co-op.
The key to democracy is for citizens like you to stay engaged and make your voice heard.
N. Duane Noland is the President/CEO of the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives, Springfield.
© 2014 Illinois Country Living Magazine.
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