Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence is a familiar face to electric cooperatives in Indiana, co-op officials say.
“We’ve enjoyed a very positive, longstanding relationship with the governor. His support for Indiana’s electric cooperatives has been unwavering,” said Scott Bowers, vice president of government relations at Indianapolis-based Indiana Electric Cooperatives.
Pence, who was nominated July 20 at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, has had contact with co-ops as a member of House of Representatives and as governor.
First elected to Congress in 2000, Pence was a big supporter of the Electric Cooperative Youth Tour program during his six terms on Capitol Hill.
“He always made himself available to meet with all the participants in Indiana,” Bowers said. Like a civics teacher, Pence gathered the group in front of the Capitol where he’d share history, talk about issues and answer questions.
After his 2012 election as governor, Pence backed a 2015 bill sought by electric cooperatives and Indiana’s investor-owned utilities that preserved their existing service territories, preventing annexation of service territory by the state’s municipal electrics.
“The governor signed that within 24 hours of it coming to his desk,” Bowers said. “That was one of the most significant pieces of legislation we have had in the Indiana General Assembly in a number of years. His signature on that bill was extremely important to bring stability and long-term viability to our service territory.”
In 2013, Pence, 57, told Electric Consumer, the statewide magazine, that he believes in an “all of the above” energy strategy, a key issue in Indiana, which is the fourth most coal-dependent state in the country.
“Common sense and a cost-benefit analysis always ought to inform regulatory policy, be it at the state level or the federal level,” he said.
He spoke at the 2013 statewide annual meeting in Indiana and met with co-op leaders about their concerns with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan.
Pence later signed on to the action.coop program, urging the agency to consider a balanced energy policy.
Last fall, Pence spent a day at the Fowler, Ind., farm of Bruce Buchanan, secretary-treasurer of the Warren REMC board, before hosting a large town hall that attracted more than 125 people.
“There’s really no substitute for being out on the farm. I just made a habit of … coming out in harvest to get input from farmers and to see where we are,” he said.
His wife Karen has been an active supporter of the annual Electric Consumer student art calendar contest and has spoken at receptions for the contest winners.
She invited schoolchildren to the front of the event, talked to them personally about their winning artwork and interest in art, and presented a gift from the magazine to each of the kids.
Steven Johnson is a staff writer at NRECA.
Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on ect.coop, the predecessor to electric.coop, following the Republican National Convention.