Reliable Electricity Paramount For Rural Voters According To New Survey

(ARLINGTON, VA) — Maintaining reliable electric service is the top priority of electric co-ops’ member-owners, according to a new nationwide survey. The findings come amid the release of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan (CPP), which could threaten the reliability of the country’s electric supply.

The survey asked member-owners of America’s electric cooperatives to identify the most important factor regarding their electric service. Fifty-four percent of respondents said that reliability was most important. Thirty percent of co-op members listed cost as their greatest concern. Conservation and environmental impact were third and fourth, with 9 and 5 percent of respondents listing them as their top priority, respectively.

“The member-owners of America’s electric cooperatives are clear about what’s most important to them, and that’s reliability and affordability,” said National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) Interim CEO Jeffrey Connor. “When they flip the electric switch, they expect the lights to come on—and stay on—at an affordable rate.”

The CPP will hurt many not-for-profit, consumer-owned electric co-ops, leading to higher prices for electricity and forcing the closure of co-op-owned power plants with years of life left in them. The rule was finalized in August and published in the Federal Register last month.

“The CPP will lead to increased electric bills, and it will handcuff rural economies,” Connor said. “The hardest hit by the plan will be the country’s most vulnerable populations who can least afford to pay more for electricity—people already living on fixed incomes or in poverty. It’s important for 2016 candidates to consider the devastating impact of this complex and costly scheme on rural voters and rural economies.”

The poll surveyed 750 individual co-op members during October and November. Frederick Polls conducted the survey, which was commissioned by NRECA. The poll has a margin of error of 3.6 percent. Two charts based on the polling data are available here.

“For more than 75 years, electric cooperatives have illuminated more than three quarters of the nation’s land mass,” Connor said. “As we work to meet 21st century energy demands, cooperatives are concerned about EPA’s Clean Power Plan, and the threat it poses to reliability. Those concerns are shared by our member-consumers at the end of the line.”

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.