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Colorado Co-ops Attend NRECA Grassroots Summit

May 3, 2012

About 75 Colorado electric co-ops directors and staff attended the Grassroots Summit and Legislative Conference hosted by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association in Washington, D.C. this week.  The focus of the event was on the strengthening of the electric co-op grassroots network and some 1,500 co-op representatives from all over the U.S. heard from former Congressmen and other experts in grassroots strategy and implementation.

The highlight of the Grassroots portion of the event was the panel moderated by NRECA CEO Glenn English, which featured the observations of former Congressmen Martin Frost (D-TX) and Tom Davis (R-VA). The Congressmen are both former chairs of their respective parties’ Congressional Campaign Committees. Frost and Davis made it abundantly clear that the key to successful grassroots work with members of Congress is frequent communication from constituents who have a story to tell about how proposals in Congress will impact their day-to-day lives. The members and their staff keep careful track of the letters, phone calls, and emails received in their offices and are influenced by the tone and volume of those communications.

Since Congress was in recess this week, all of our meetings were with staff, and we had significant time with each office.  As CREA Board President Bob Bledsoe stated during the meetings, we appreciate the hard work done by Congressional staff and their attention to the issues we presented during the meetings. We talked about our concerns with over-reaching environmental regulations and the recent Chu memo regarding the power marketing administrations. We also urged the delegation to support efforts to stop the EPA from regulating coal ash as a hazardous material (which will essentially prevent the current beneficial uses of that product), and we also thanked the staff for the support of their offices with respect to the RUS loan program.

CREA supplemented the NRECA program with a number of speakers and panels, including Edward McGinnis from the DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy and Maryam Brown, Chief Counsel with the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Washington lawyer Bob O’Neil gave a very interesting presentation to our group on the history of energy policy and power supply, and we concluded our events with a panel consisting of the CEO’s of Tri-State, Deseret Power, and Minnkota Power Cooperative. It was good to see our old friend Mac McLennan in his new roll at Minnkota.

We had a great few days in D.C., and are charged up to reignite our grassroots efforts this summer and fall as we head into the election.



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