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Electric cooperatives are deeply connected to the communities they serve and are focused on meeting members’ energy needs today and into the future. Providing our consumer-members with safe, reliable and affordable power will always be our highest priority, but that requires much more than simply maintaining power lines and other infrastructure.
It requires us to focus on what our elected leaders are doing in Washington, D.C., to ensure they are acting in your best interest. Here are some of the things we’re keeping an eye on in the nation’s capital.
Congress created a problem for electric co-ops when it made changes to the tax code in 2017 that inadvertently put co-ops’ tax-exempt status at risk if they received government grants. These changes could have severely weakened the financial condition of cooperatives most in need of help had Congress not acted to fix the problem. Fortunately, Congress passed bipartisan legislation known as the RURAL Act that makes it clear that electric co-ops won’t lose their tax-exempt status just because they receive assistance from the federal government.
Recently, the U.S. Department of Energy selected the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association—our national trade association—to research small-scale, community-based wind energy solutions that can be deployed by electric co-ops. This research, to be conducted in partnership with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, is critical to helping co-ops meet their members’ desire for affordable, renewable energy solutions.
In response to public policy discussions in Washington about ways to reduce emissions, electric co-ops are participating in cutting-edge research to capture and use carbon emissions to make commercial products. This work is underway at the Wyoming Integrated Test Center, where researchers strive to advance technologies and expand understanding of what’s possible in this new arena.
Many electric co-ops are working to help close the digital divide by bringing broadband internet access 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 some rural communities.
These are just a few of the ways that electric co-ops are working in Washington to meet the needs of the communities we serve. South Plains Electric also works closely with our state representatives on a variety of issues that may affect our members. Our commitment to you extends far beyond the borders of our service territory.