NRECA 2016 Annual Meeting Focuses on Next Generation Leaders and Technologies

Interim CEO Jeffrey Connor addressing the leaders of electric co-ops from across the nation. Photo credit: Luis Gomez

(NEW ORLEANS, La.) — Today National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) Interim CEO Jeffrey Connor kicked off NRECA’s 2016 Annual Meeting by exhorting the nation’s electric co-op leaders to join together on a major initiative to increase voter registration in co-op communities across the country.

“Elections matter. They belong to the people – but they’re about ideas. With our full participation, and the full participation of our neighbors, we can guarantee that those ideas come from us,” Connor said.

“It’s about key issues where we work and live: Making our communities resilient against natural disasters; expanding broadband service and creating economic opportunities; and providing continued access to safe, reliable and affordable electricity.”

Looking beyond the November elections, Connor expressed optimism that investments in technology and in the next generation of co-op leaders will sustain cooperatives as the electric utility sector undergoes tremendous change.

Connor underscored the advantages of the not-for-profit, member-owned business model. Being a co-op means “being a trusted energy advisor to meet changing consumer expectations with solutions like community solar and community storage; being a partner in exciting new technologies from the smart grid to the smart home. Being a co-op means being an innovative employer for the veterans returning home and millennials coming back to communities where they grew up,” Connor said.

Global futurist Jack Uldrich, delivering the keynote address, outlined some of the new technologies that have the potential to change how co-ops deliver electricity to their consumer-members: carbon dioxide utilization, drones, nanotechnology, robotics, the internet of things, and even driverless cars.

“What hasn’t changed,” said Connor, “is the way we meet our future: head-on, with a firm understanding of who we are, what we can do, and how we can cooperate to do it together.

More than 6,000 representatives from electric co-ops across the nation are attending NRECA’s Annual Meeting, Feb. 14-17 in New Orleans to set NRECA’s legislative and organizational agenda for 2016. Delegates will also hear from NRECA officials, key public figures and business experts about issues affecting electric cooperatives and their consumer members.

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association is the national service organization that represents the nation’s more than 900 private, not-for-profit, consumer-owned electric cooperatives, which provide service to 42 million people in 47 states.