Advocating for you - Carolina Country

Advocating for you

by Nelle Hotchkiss

By Nelle Hotchkiss

Nelle Hotchkiss

In the 1930s, our predecessors from communities across North Carolina and the nation built the electric cooperative program from the ground up. These pioneers — farmers, workers and people like you and me — made their voices heard by working with elected officials in our state capitol and in Washington, D.C., to get the lights turned on in rural areas.

This month, board members and employees from all 26 of North Carolina’s electric cooperatives will carry forth that tradition as they meet with elected officials who serve us in Raleigh and Washington, D.C. These meetings provide opportunities to work with and educate our elected officials, but the scope has grown as new industry challenges have emerged and as cooperatives have evolved into modern utilities with sophisticated service offerings. 

The foundation of our work with elected officials is education. Our elected officials, who come from a variety of backgrounds, need to understand the electric industry and the needs of our communities more fully to make informed decisions about issues that could affect the people and communities back home.

As local utilities, we have a clear understanding of how policy decisions affect lives “back home.” We know that cost increases incurred as a result of new regulations or legislation could really impact the lives of our cooperative members and the vitality of local communities.

Our work with federal and state legislators is meant to encourage them to craft policies that mitigate the economic impacts of new laws and regulations while balancing environmental or other benefits. While many new regulations will drive cost increases in the electric industry, as not-for-profit utilities we understand what these cost increases mean to your bottom line. We believe that we can work with our elected officials — just as our electric cooperative founders did — to balance the impact of new legislation on our members while preserving the beauty and heritage of North Carolina.

Our country is led by those who participate in the political process whether that be by voting, advocating for beliefs or running for office. It is our responsibility to participate in this process as representatives of cooperative members and advocates for our local communities. Together, we will continue our shared mission of bringing 2.5 million members across the state safe, affordable, reliable and environmentally responsible power.

About the Author

Nelle Hotchkiss is senior vice president of Corporate Relations for the North Carolina Association of Electric Cooperatives.

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