by | Feb 20, 2023

Grid reliability on the agenda as co-ops call on legislators

An army of electric cooperative directors, employees and grassroots advocates descended on the Missouri Capitol Jan. 30-31 to discuss issues affecting their members, including the reliability of the electric co-op grid.

They found a warm welcome from elected officials, rural and urban.

They also got a chance to hear from state officials, including Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe, Attorney General Andrew Bailey and BJ Tanksley, who heads the Missouri Office of Broadband Development.

“I just want to tell you that anytime you can meet with the electric cooperatives, it’s like meeting with the heart of Missouri,” the lieutenant governor said. “I can say you have the utmost respect from lawmakers and that’s not a rural, urban, Democrat or Republican thing. I’m just telling you we know that you changed people’s lives a century ago, and you’re doing it again now, as some of you deploy fiber across the state.”

The attorney general also praised the co-ops for their work, saying, “I know how important this organization is and what it does for the people of the state of Missouri. I don’t know what I would do without good energy at an affordable price in rural Missouri. That is critical to the people that I know and love. This organization is a critical piece of our infrastructure in Missouri.”

Missouri’s broadband leader drew a round of applause when he announced $260 million in grants to extend broadband to unserved Missourians was awarded, with $91 million of that earmarked for electric co-op projects in rural areas.

He encouraged the cooperatives to apply for the next round of funding, with a goal of extending high-speed internet service to all Missourians. “The true goal of this next opportunity is connecting all Missourians and we want to work with you all to do just that,” he said.

Before the group headed to the Capitol, state Rep. Jeff Knight and AMEC Director of Government Relations Rebecca Eichelberger teamed up for a mock legislative visit that helped those attending make the most of their visits.

The issues they shared with the legislators included grid reliability, rural broadband deployment, sales tax exemptions for some electric distribution and transmission costs and electric cooperative governance.

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