Reimagining NRECA’s Government Relations Advocacy
As the 2024 election year begins, NRECA’s Government Relations team finds itself advocating for electric cooperatives amidst an already divided Congress and the rush of new federal regulations from the Biden administration. In a recent Q&A session, Louis Finkel, NRECA’s senior vice president of Government Relations, discussed the association’s aggressive efforts to ensure that new legislation and regulations benefit not-for-profit co-ops and their consumer-members.
Funding Opportunities for Electric Co-ops
Electric co-ops have been benefiting from provisions in the bipartisan infrastructure law and the Inflation Reduction Act, winning awards for millions of dollars. These victories were made possible by NRECA’s efforts in securing these provisions. The question now is whether the flow of funding to co-ops will continue in a significant way this year.
Finkel responds by highlighting the ongoing tension between the Biden administration, Senate Democrats, and House Republicans in Congress. House Republicans are looking to cut funding in the bipartisan infrastructure law and the Inflation Reduction Act. Finkel emphasizes the importance of educating members of Congress about the value of new incentive programs aimed at strengthening the grid and ensuring reliable, affordable power from electric co-ops. NRECA will continue to work towards solidifying these programs and preventing misguided agency interpretation that could undermine them.
The Prospects of the Farm Bill
Congress is currently working on crafting a new five-year Farm Bill that could provide crucial funding for co-op infrastructure projects, rural economic development, and broadband. Finkel acknowledges the differences of opinion between the two parties and expresses NRECA’s intention to work with members on both sides of the aisle to emphasize the important role that Rural Utilities Service (RUS) programs play in supporting co-op communities throughout the country.
Legislative Priorities for 2024
Regarding NRECA’s legislative priorities for 2024, Finkel mentions the focus on addressing supply chain difficulties and advocating for government resources to alleviate these issues. Additionally, NRECA will be engaged in reauthorizing the Water Resources Development Act and ensuring that no provisions breach dams on the lower Snake River. The association will continue to push for legislation that expedites permitting and advocates for transmission policies that allocate costs to those who benefit the most. NRECA also aims to educate members of Congress about the importance of Federal Communications Commission exemptions for electric co-ops in relation to broadband.
Opposing EPA’s Power Plant Rule
NRECA strongly opposes the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed power plant rule, considering it a threat to co-ops’ ability to provide reliable, affordable power. Finkel expects a final rule to be issued in the spring and anticipates continued opposition and potential litigation. NRECA will oppose any overreach by federal agencies that hampers co-ops’ ability to fulfill their mission.
Navigating Election Year Challenges
With the upcoming presidential and congressional elections, NRECA acknowledges the challenges of advancing their legislative and regulatory priorities. A divided Congress and the limited time for new proposals to be finalized make progress difficult. However, NRECA remains committed to opposing shortsighted policies and supporting those that serve the interests of their members and consumer-members.
By Erin Kelly, Staff Writer for NRECA.
Read More of this Story at www.electric.coop – 2024-01-12 21:58:47
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