Volatile changes in Washington, D.C. also mean opportunity

NRECA CEO Jim Mattheson

The changing of the guard is a “volatile time” in Washington, but that volatility creates opportunities for the nation’s electric cooperatives, says National Rural Electric Cooperative Association CEO Jim Matheson.

“Washington kind of gets set in its ways, and if they’re shaking things up right now, there’s volatility,” Matheson said Jan. 9 at NRECA’s CEO meeting. “That’s a great oppor­tunity for us as a thoughtful, substantive, grounded entity that knows what we’re talking about, knows what we want, to take advantage of that volatile circumstance,” he said.

Matheson noted the success of the Co-ops Vote ­campaign, which helped get rural voters to the polls in numbers not seen in many years. This level of participation, Matheson said, shows Washington that “rural votes matter, so rural issues matter.” And that creates an opportunity for NRECA to “raise issues and get a platform that perhaps we didn’t have in recent years.”

A number of issues identified as priorities by then-candidate Trump—job creation, economic expansion, infrastructure development and energy policy—are critically important to electric co-ops and rural America, as well. “As private, consumer-owned ­businesses, we have a keen sense of what matters most to rural ­communities. We ­encourage the new administration to partner with us to expand economic opportunities for those who call rural America home.”