Sen. Johnny Isakson Receives NRECA Distinguished Service Award

Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Georgia, accepts NRECA’s 2019 Distinguished Service Award. (Photo by Beth McMillan, Georgia EMC)

Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., received the NRECA Distinguished Service Award for leading congressional efforts to pass legislation to benefit electric cooperatives, including a bill that saved co-op pension plans hundreds of millions of dollars. 

Georgia’s electric co-op leaders who were attending the 2019 Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C., recognized the senator at his office on Capitol Hill.

Dennis Chastain, president and CEO at Georgia Electric Membership Corp., lauded Isakson as a “tireless advocate for electric cooperatives throughout his time in public service,” which began in the state legislature decades ago.

The senator “has played a key role on many of the issues affecting electric cooperatives that those of us in this room advocate on during these conferences,” Chastain said.

Isakson, who chairs the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, is a longtime member of Cobb EMC in Marietta.

“In my state, our electric membership cooperatives serve 4.4 million Georgians and employ nearly 6,000 workers,” Isakson said. “It’s my honor to fight for the customers and employees in Georgia and across the United States who benefit from not only stable sources of power but also the numerous community services, training programs and other initiatives led by our EMCs.” 

Isakson helped secure a provision in the 2015 “Medicare Doc Fix” bill that exempted co-ops in the NRECA Retirement Security (RS) Plan from a $300 million deficit reduction contribution. 

He was also a co-sponsor of the “Cooperative and Small Employer Charity Pension Flexibility Act,” which permanently excluded the RS Plan from the volatile and costly provisions of the Pension Protection Act of 2006. It was signed into law in 2014.

Isakson recently led the effort for a tax credit for advanced nuclear power facilities. Georgia’s generation co-op, Oglethorpe Power in Tucker, and its distribution co-ops are co-owners in Plant Vogtle, where units 3 and 4 are under construction, and expected to go online in 2021 and 2022, respectively.

“By working across the aisle, Senator Isakson was ultimately successful in getting this measure in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018,” said Chastain. “If not for Senator Isakson’s efforts, the modification to the Nuclear Production Tax Credit would not have been realized.”