Co-op leaders discuss issues on Capitol Hill

Bustos staff 5-3-16Joining nearly 1,500 electric cooperative leaders, including Illinois co-op managers and board ­members, discussed key co-op issues with ­members of Congress and their staffs at Capitol Hill meetings during the 2016 NRECA Legislative Conference, held May 1-3 in Washington, D.C.

At one meeting, the Illinois co-op ­delegation met with Rep. Cheri Bustos’ Legislative Director Lyron Blum-Evitts. The co-op ­leaders discussed these key issues:

Join new caucuses
Participants asked ­representatives to join two new House caucuses to help promote co-op ­priorities. The Rural Broadband Caucus will focus on bridging the digital divide while the Co-op Business Caucus will focus on ­promoting the co-op ­business model.

Oppose pole attachment legislation
Draft legislation before the House Energy and Commerce Committee would extend federal regulation of attachments to electric co-op power poles. Co-op leaders asked their officials to maintain the federal pole attachment exemption for electric cooperatives.

Extend geothermal credit
Co-ops asked lawmakers to extend the tax credit for highly efficient geothermal heat pumps, which expire at the end of 2016. Co-ops help their members save energy and money by promoting geothermal heat pumps.

Support coal ash legislation
A bill introduced in the Senate would prevent the EPA from reversing course on its coal ash regulations and require states to implement the EPA rule through a ­permitting program. Legislation has passed the House and co-ops sought Senate support.

Support FEMA reauthorization
Co-op leaders sought Senate support for H.R. 1471, a bill passed by the House that cuts red tape. Without FEMA, many electric cooperative consumers living in disaster-stricken areas could face significantly higher ­electric rates. This legislation also includes the FEMA disaster threshold changes, which are critical to downstate Illinois.