From left: Front, Directors Lynn Price and Otis Jones, Sen. Johnny Isakson, and Director Steve Blair. Back row, Director Rodney Chandler, Chip Jakins, Director John Mitchell, Lee Chapman.
Recently, leaders from Jackson EMC were among a delegation of approximately 150 people representing EMCs from Georgia at the annual National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) Legislative Conference. In total, a contingent of 2,000 directors, managers and representatives from electric cooperatives around the country descended on Washington D.C. for the event.
The annual event is an opportunity to educate members of Congress and administration officials on legislative issues affecting electric cooperatives and our member-owners. “Advocating for our members does not stop at the edge of our service territory. It is critically important that our elected leaders keep cooperatives in mind when crafting laws and regulations that impact us,” said Lee Chapman, vice-president of Marketing, Member Services and Governmental Affairs.
This year, the EMCs from Georgia met with U.S. Senators David Perdue and Johnny Isakson and members of Georgia’s congressional delegation. Jackson EMC representatives joined the conversation to help educate policymakers on the unique benefits of the locally-controlled, member-owned, cooperative business structure and urged lawmakers to support initiatives in five key areas:
- Energy Tax Incentives – A bill introduced by Tom Reed (R-NY) and Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA) to help co-op members save energy and money by extending tax credits for highly-efficient geothermal heat pumps.
- Rural Utilities Service (RUS) Electric Loan Program – Maintain current funding levels which provide affordable capital to electric cooperatives for infrastructure development.
- The Electricity Reliability and Forest Protection Act, introduced by Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) and Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR), to ensure grid reliability and reduce the risk of fires and fire hazards on utility rights-of-way on federally-owned lands.
- Endangered Species Act Reform – Make the process of determining threatened or endangered species more transparent, effective and less costly.
- Rural Broadband – Continue to further efforts to close the broadband gap in rural communities by assuring that rural broadband expansion is included as part of any infrastructure spending plan as well as making necessary modifications to existing federal rural broadband programs to ensure these programs are working as they should.
Having a voice in the conversation with policymakers allows Jackson EMC to give them a better understanding of the unique energy needs of our members. Energy policies will continue to change, and by opting for a seat at the table, we are doing our part towards making those changes work for everyone.