Thanks to your efforts, and those of other electric
cooperative member-consumers all across this great Commonwealth, the large,
out-of-state cable companies were unable to pass their bill in this year’s
Virginia General Assembly!
Congratulations to all of you who raised a mighty chorus
of voices so loud, so large, and so insistent, that our state legislators
chose not to pass the cable company bill, HB 1439, and its Senate version,
SB 890. Instead, in an action by our delegates and state senators that was
responsive, insightful, and prudent, the General Assembly asked the State
Corporation Commission — the state agency that regulates a number of
industries, including electric utilities — to study the whole complex issue
of pole attachments during the coming year, and to report its findings back
to the legislature.
We believe that this was the best possible outcome for
Virginia’s 13 electric cooperatives and our 500,000 member-consumers. This
highly technical issue will now be studied by the state agency that has the
necessary expertise to make informed recommendations on how these
attachments should be handled moving forward. The key for electric
cooperatives has always centered on the need to recover the costs we incur
when we allow cable companies to attach their equipment to our — actually,
to your — poles.
As those of you who have followed this issue closely since
January are aware, the cable company bill would have mandated that your
electric cooperative accept a lower, subsidy-level fee from the cable
companies for these pole attachments. For decades now, electric cooperatives
and cable companies have mutually negotiated fees that enabled the
cooperatives to recover our costs for allowing such attachments. The
proposed cable company bill would have changed that, and would have
prevented this cost recovery.
And remember, cost recovery is crucial for electric
cooperatives, since we are not-for-profit utilities owned by our customers,
who are called member-consumers. Any costs that are not recovered must be
passed along to you and all the other member-consumers. The cable company
bill could have imposed $3 million a year in unrecovered costs onto
Virginia’s electric cooperatives, and thus onto you! And those unrecovered
costs would have recurred year after year after year.
But thanks to YOUR involvement — and the outspoken
leadership of some key legislators from both sides of the aisle, in both
houses — the cable bill did not pass, and the matter is now in the hands of
experts charged with ensuring protection of
Virginia consumers. Virginia’s electric cooperatives are especially
appreciative of the leadership shown by Del. Terry Kilgore of Gate City;
Del. Steve Landes of Verona; Del. Tim Hugo of Centreville; Sen. Richard
Saslaw of Springfield; and Sen. Phillip Puckett of Tazewell, all of whom
showed a deep understanding of this issue and a genuine desire to protect
So in the end, an unreasonable bill turned into a
reasonable outcome. And legislation that would have been grossly unfair to
you and your neighbors turned into a professional study that has promise of
being fair to all.
And the turning point came not in the halls of power in
Richmond, but in the powerful calls of constituents, from Accomack and
Appomattox, Clarke County and Clarksville, Leesburg and Lee County,
Wakefield and Winchester, and from countless other cooperative consumers
everywhere in between.
LET'S KEEP IN TOUCH
Want to stay informed about issues that
affect your member-owned electric cooperative? Please sign up now by going
to a special website,
www.capwiz.com/nreca/va/mlm/signup. We promise to only contact you when
it's absolutely necessary, and to keep you updated on the issues that may
affect you as a member-consumer of an electric cooperative.