Delegates get energized at the national meeting of electric cooperatives
Some 8,000 delegates of the nation's electric cooperatives in March set policy, engaged in training and discussion sessions, and learned about new services and technology at the cooperatives' annual meeting in San Diego. The setting for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) also hosted annual meetings of allied national organizations that serve financial, insurance, branding, technology and other electric cooperative interests.
In his remarks, NRECA CEO Glenn English issued a direct challenge to co-op leaders, calling on them to invigorate grassroots political activity among their 42 million members and seize opportunities to keep electricity prices at affordable levels. English said managers, directors and staffers must recommit themselves to build the political muscle that co-ops were known for in the early days of the rural electric program.
"There is nothing that you can do as a manager or a director that will have more impact on your members' electric bills than getting involved in this fight and building your political strength. Anything else is minor in comparison," he said.
English said the current congressional stalemate provides co-ops a chance to prepare for when Congress will start to move ahead with the public's business. "Only you can help bring economic common sense to the United States government," he said.
The meeting also saw a major revamping of the resolutions process that sets the policy agenda for NRECA each year. The new process streamlines and makes more comprehensible and effective the resolutions that originate at the local level and take shape in regional meetings prior to the annual meeting. Active in that revamping were North Carolina's NRECA board member Curtis Wynn of Roanoke Electric Cooperative and Dale Lambert of Randolph EMC.
"Our resolutions are the wheels that move the association forward," said NRECA board president Mike Guidry, general manager of South Louisiana Electric Cooperative Association. "They guide us on how to advocate on your behalf and how you can advocate on behalf of your members."
In other business, Randolph EMC board member Delbert Cranford was elected board president of the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation. Participating in national committee business were David Beam, NCEMC, Cooperative Research Council; Frederick A. Tedder, Brunswick EMC, Community and Economic Development; Allen Speller, Roanoke Electric Cooperative, Member and Public Relations; Mitchell Keel, Four County EMC, Power and Water Resources; and Jimmy Horton, EnergyUnited, Federated Rural Insurance Exchange board.