Shaping public policy, advocating co-op priorities

Posted: May 1, 2023 at 7:55 am

Oklahoma families and businesses need their lights to stay on at a price they can afford. Our national energy policies must reflect this promise we make to our members. Today’s energy decisions will determine if there are enough resources to meet tomorrow’s energy needs.

For this reason, Oklahoma’s electric cooperatives invest time in nurturing relationships with decision-makers in Washington, D.C., to ensure the co-op perspective is at the forefront of these discussions. Delegates from 10 local electric co-ops in our state connected with policymakers on issues important to serving the membership. Some of the issues we discussed this year were addressing reliability pressures, supply chain concerns and the Farm Bill’s impact on electric co-ops.

For example, the Farm Bill contains significant opportunities for electric co-ops and rural communities, including expanding rural broadband access, enhancing electric infrastructure and promoting economic development.

Electric co-ops have decades of experience supporting local communities by accessing public and private funding. Today, co-ops are positioning themselves to leverage new infrastructure funds to support their communities. Advocating for consideration of the Farm Bill and passage before the September 30 deadline helps provide clarity and certainty to electric co-ops as they plan to implement these programs in the communities they serve.

As many of you have likely experienced, supply chain delays are also a priority for co-ops to address. Basic machinery and grid components essential to ensuring continued reliability of the electric system are taking longer to receive. For example, two years ago it took an average of 70 days for an electric co-op to receive a distribution transformer after placing an order. The same order today takes an average of 340 days to fulfill. That’s almost five times longer. These components play a key role in keeping the lights on.

These are just a few examples of the diverse and detailed discussions your local co-op leadership are initiating on your behalf. I invite you to join us and connect with your district’s elected officials to encourage your lawmakers to support policies that are inclusive of all energy sources to maintain reliability and affordability.

By Chris Meyers

General Manager | Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives