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members BY A N T H O N Y J. A H E R N
This spring trustees, managers and employees of electric cooperatives from
across the nation gathered again in Washington, D.C., to participate in a unique
display of solidarity and outreach.
The 40th annual National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA)
Legislative Conference was held in the shadow of the Capitol dome. Followed by
two days of visits to U.S. House and Senate ofﬁces to inform members of
Congress and their staffers of concerns about pending legislation and regulation,
the conference displayed not only the strength of the 42-million-strong Co-op
Nation, but also a renewed commitment to the principles that have made
electric co-ops a grassroots political force to be reckoned with whenever threats
arise to reliable and affordable electricity.
This year the issues were different than in 1973, when electric co-ops rallied to
actually save rural electriﬁcation itself. Back then, President Richard Nixon’s
administration killed the low-interest loan program on which electric
cooperatives depended — and had since the mid-1930s. This action precipitated
a political ﬁght the likes of which had not been seen in a long time and that
cemented the reputation of electric co-ops for bulldog-like tenacity when
protecting their members.
Long story short, Congress restored the rural electriﬁcation loan program, but the
nation’s co-ops realized what a close call it had been. The lesson was important
and would not be forgotten. So when President Bill Clinton tried to sell off
federal hydroelectric dams that provided low-cost electricity to many co-ops, he
had to back away when NRECA entered the political ﬁght, representing the
interests of millions of those who could have been negatively affected.
“When the nation’s rural electric cooperatives take up a cause, they seldom lose,
and they ﬁnd a lot of allies in both political parties,” wrote the Des Moines
Register as recently as 2007, when the impending issue was carbon dioxide cap
and trade and its effects on electricity rates.
Under a brand-new NRECA chief executive ofﬁcer, Jo Ann Emerson, the Co-op
Nation (it’s what we call ourselves these days) is rededicating itself. We’ve always
had a strong voice, but today we beneﬁt from the increasing involvement of co-
op members themselves. In Ohio, more than 5,000 co-op members and
employees have joined the Action Committee for Rural Electriﬁcation® (ACRE)
and Cooperative Owners for Political Action.
By encouraging grassroots support, we have the potential to become one of the
largest consumer-interest organizations in the U.S. This is why it is still
important to “show the ﬂag” and remind members of Congress — and special
interests that might not have the welfare of co-op members at heart — who we
are and what we stand for.
2 COUNTRY LIVING
• JUNE 2013
Volume 55, No. 9
www.ohioruralelectric.coop Anthony Ahern
President & CEO
Dir. of Comm.
Art & Prod. Manager
COUNTRY LIVING (ISSN 0747-0592) is the
official publication of Ohio Rural Electric Co-
operatives, Inc. With a paid circulation of
294,786, it is the monthly communication
link between the rural elec tric cooperatives in
Ohio and West Virginia and their members.
Subscription price: $4.30 to $6.50 per year
to co-op members; $12 per year to nonmem-
bers. Nothing in this publication may be re-
produced in any manner without specific
written permission from Ohio Rural Electric
Cooperatives, Inc. All rights reserved.
Audited Media Member
National advertising representatives:
NATIONAL COUNTRY MARKET,
800-NCM-1181 State advertising representatives:
Sandy Woolard 614-403-1653
Tim Dickes 614-855-5226
The fact that a product is advertised in Country Living
should not be taken as an endorsement. If you find an ad-
vertisement misleading or a product unsatisfactory, please
notify us or the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, Consumer
Protection Section, 30 E. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43215,
or call 1-800-282-0515.
Cooperative members —
Please report any change of address to
your local electric cooperative.
Periodicals postage paid at Columbus, OH
and at additional mailing offices.
POSTMASTER: Send address changes to
editorial and advertising offices at:
6677 Busch Boulevard
Columbus, OH 43229-1101
Telephone — 614-846-5757
Serving on the Ohio Rural Electric Cooperatives, Inc., Board of
Trustees are George Brake, chairman; Dennis W. Schindler, vice
chairman; Jack Schmidt, secretary/treasurer; Stephen Huff, Paul
Berridge, Thomas McQuiston, Robert McCort, Donald McCracken,
Jack L. Kitchel, Daniel McNaull, Robert E. Wise, Shirley J. Stutz,
David Corbin, Barry Jolliff, Warren Taylor, James R. McConnell,
Gene McCluer, Mitch Headley, John Saxton, Edward P. Sanders,
Harold E. Cooper, Larry Weirich, Jeff Wilson and David P. Miller.
Anthony J. Ahern, president; Kurt Helfrich, counsel.