Electric cooperatives are deeply connected to the communities they serve and are focused on meeting consumers’ energy needs today and into the future. Providing our consumers with safe, reliable and affordable power will always be our highest priority, but this requires much more than simply maintaining overhead power lines and other infrastructure. It requires us to focus on what our elected leaders are doing in Washington to ensure they are acting in your best interest. Here are some of the legislative issues we’re keeping an eye on in the nation’s capital.
Congress created a problem for electric cooperatives when it made changes to the tax code in 2017 that inadvertently put cooperatives’ tax-exempt status at risk if they receive government grants. This could stick cooperative members with the cost of paying taxes unless Congress fixes the problem. Fortunately, there is a solution. Bipartisan legislation known as the RURAL Act has strong support in Congress, and we’re working with lawmakers to pass this important piece of legislation.
Recently, the U.S. Department of Energy selected the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA)—our national trade association —to research small-scale, community-based wind energy solutions that can be deployed by electric cooperatives. This research, to be conducted in partnership with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, is critical to helping cooperatives meet their members’ desire for affordable renewable energy solutions.
In response to public policy discussions in Washington about ways to reduce emissions, electric cooperatives are participating in cutting-edge research to capture and use carbon emissions to make commercial products. This work is under way at the Integrated Test Center, just outside of Gillette, Wyo., where researchers will strive to advance technologies and expand understanding of what’s possible in this new arena.
Many electric cooperatives are working to help close the digital divide by bringing broadband to unserved and underserved areas. NRECA called on Congress to make more funds available for rural broadband deployment. Congress answered the call and funded ReConnect, a pilot program that supports efforts to make broadband possible in rural communities. The first grants were announced late last year, with several cooperatives and their communities the beneficiaries. These are just a few of the ways that electric cooperatives are working in Washington to meet the needs of the communities we serve. Because our commitment to you extends far beyond the edge of our