Rural Missouri Magazine

Our Supreme Power

Frank Stork
by Frank Stork

When our founding fathers crafted the United States Constitution and formed our “republic,” they gave voters a lot of responsibility. Our republic is a nation in which the supreme power rests in the citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected representatives directly responsible to those same people.

In everyday terms the definition means “we who are entitled to vote must communicate frequently with those we elect.”

Our members of Congress have been hearing a lot from electric cooperative members as they deal with a comprehensive energy bill moving quickly through the U. S. Congress. Because of the energy bill’s broad scope, our elected officials are being lobbied hard by dozens of interest groups each with a huge stake in its outcome.

Because we benefit greatly from a high-voltage transmission system built and paid for by us, we do not want the Congress to give the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) control over the electrical system we use to serve ourselves. Some in Congress want to transfer our local control to FERC so consumers outside our state can benefit from our low-cost electricity.

Those who know the electric power business compare a high-voltage power line to a water pipe. That is, we can only push so much water/electricity through either in a given time period.

As we explain our legislative position in those terms, we say we need a large part of the existing transmission line “pipe” to deliver electricity to our Missouri consumers. The energy bill in Congress refers to this critical service to electric co-op members as “native load.”

It makes sense that only the excess capacity of the conductor owned by Missouri consumers should be made available to those who want to transfer electric power through “our pipe” to make money for themselves. We need to make sure native load will continue to have priority use of the system.

The Electricity Title in the energy bill would also heap costly and unneeded FERC regulation on small consumer-owned electric utilities. Ironically, the same measure removes regulation from the large utilities and marketers who have proven they need it the most.

Please write a letter to U.S. Sens. Kit Bond and Jim Talent and your U. S. representative at their local office before you turn your reading lamp off. Ask them to support language in the electricity section of the energy bill that would protect our ability to serve native load.

In addition, ask them to support language that would exempt consumer-owned electric cooperatives from costly and unneeded FERC regulation. They will know exactly what you are asking them to do.

Elected officials in our republic, appreciate any effort we make to communicate with them. They are keenly aware that the supreme power of our state and nation rests with those entitled to vote. And, they do want to hear from us. They cannot act in our best interest if we don’t let them know what we need.

Stork was executive vice president of the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives and a member of Three Rivers Electric Co-op.

Rural Missouri | June 2020 Issue

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Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives

Rural Missouri
2722 E. McCarty Street
P.O. Box 1645 • Jefferson City, Mo. 65102

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