Energy Secretary Rick Perry hailed America’s electric cooperatives for delivering affordable, reliable electricity across the country and encouraged them to advocate on their challenges, especially grid security.
“You are a unique group of people,” Perry said in his address to more than 2,100 co-op leaders gathered for NRECA’s Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C. “You need to be part of this conversation.”
Perry recalled the electrification of his home as a child in rural Texas and underscored the importance of using all domestic energy resources available to power America and ensure grid reliability.
“We want energy that is made in America, that is good for America and good for American jobs,” he said.
Perry said going forward, Department of Energy research will be conducted in areas that are “most promising,” adding that the department is “not going to have any sacred cows.” As governor of Texas, Perry oversaw the state’s nation-leading development of wind energy.
“We need to stop having an either-or debate about renewable energy and fossil fuels. We don’t need to choose,” he said. “We can have both. When we choose both, we get to assist in the development of both.”
Perry said President Trump is committed to an all-of-the-above energy strategy for America.
“The president made one request: Let’s not just make America energy independent. Let’s make American energy dominant,” he said.
The secretary singled out cybersecurity as a key concern and complemented NRECA’s Rural Cooperative Cybersecurity Capabilities Program.
Known as RC3, the program is part of a broader DOE initiative and will help provide rural co-ops with tools and resources to strengthen their cybersecurity efforts to protect the grid.
Perry also recognized the Electricity Subsector Coordinating Council as a resource for electric co-ops to address cybersecurity issues, calling it the “primary liaison between co-ops and the federal government.”
Perry met in March with ESCC co-chairman Duane Highley, president and CEO of Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. in Little Rock. The council is a public-private partnership for critical infrastructure owners and operators on cybersecurity policy issues.
“If we don’t have a secure, reliable, affordable energy foundation in this country, our economy … [is] in jeopardy,” he said.
Cathy Cash is a staff writer at NRECA.