Lawmakers Should Weigh Unique Nature of Electric Co-ops When Considering Energy Transitions, NRECA CEO Says

ARLINGTON, Va.—Lawmakers should consider the needs of electric cooperative members when exploring ways to continue reducing power plant emissions, NRECA CEO Jim Matheson told the House Energy & Commerce Committee’s Energy Subcommittee today.

“America’s electric co-ops are engines of economic development focused on responsibly delivering affordable, reliable electricity in communities across the nation,” Matheson said. “Diversity of electric generation, including baseload sources, is essential to meeting co-op members’ expectations. Consistent with that approach, electric co-ops thoughtfully explore all ideas that promote these core principles as they work to meet the evolving energy needs of their local communities.”

Electric co-ops have and will continue to diversify their energy portfolios, with a majority of their power now coming from low and no-emission resources. Moreover, by electrifying processes in other sectors of our economy, the electric sector can help reduce emissions across the entire economy.

“Having the flexibility to implement energy solutions across the many regions where cooperatives serve is a critical factor today and for the future of our members,” Matheson said. “Electric co-ops have invested in a variety of measures to reduce emissions, such as renewable sources, energy efficiency, storage options, and research on carbon capture technologies.”

Matheson stressed that every cooperative’s resource mix is different and will continue to vary greatly depending on existing energy resources and assets, the impact on energy costs for member-consumers, reliability implications, geographic location, and other local circumstances.

“Policymakers should be mindful of this and ensure that any energy policy proposals provide long-term certainty and flexibility that maintains energy diversity for electric co-ops, protects reliability of the electric grid, and minimizes undue economic impacts for consumers – especially those in rural and persistently poor communities,” Matheson said.

Matheson’s written testimony to the committee is available here.

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association is the national trade association representing more than 900 local electric cooperatives. From growing suburbs to remote farming communities, electric co-ops serve as engines of economic development for 42 million Americans across 56 percent of the nation’s landscape. As local businesses built by the consumers they serve, electric cooperatives have meaningful ties to rural America and invest $12 billion annually in their communities.