Help Us Protect Your Pocketbook

by Richard G. Johnstone Jr., Exec. Editor

Richard Johnstone

It takes an extraordinary amount of time, planning, expertise and effort to generate and deliver a complex wonder, electricity, to your home or business minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, and to do so reliably, affordably, and in an environmentally responsible way.

And yet, that’s exactly what your electric cooperative has been doing in your community for three generations, since just before the “Greatest Generation” embarked upon the greatest crusade against tyranny in the history of our planet.

Electric cooperatives were formed by local folks in almost a thousand communities across the country in the late 1930s and early ’40s to free rural men and women from back-breaking farm labor. The fact that the electric co-ops’ wondrous electrons also lighted and warmed their homes and preserved and cooked their food was viewed as a delightful bonus.

So, to say that our definition today of “basic electric needs” is broader and deeper than that of past generations is like saying that Michael Phelps is just “a good swimmer.” From plasma and LCD TVs to powerful computers to stunning sound systems to cell phones, today’s consumers rely on electricity like drivers rely on roads.

The recent rise in the cost of gasoline and the various fuels that generate electricity has produced a parallel rise in our national discussions about the importance of keeping the cost of these critical commodities affordable to average Americans. No one should have to choose between gasoline and groceries, or electric power and prescriptions.

And that’s why your electric cooperative needs your help. Your local cooperative and the more than 900 others across the country are asking the 40 million Americans who receive their electricity from a cooperative to take political action as soon as possible, and as long as necessary to ensure that Congress protects your interests.

This national campaign is dubbed, “Our Energy, Our Future,” and its main thrust is to prompt and promote a dialogue between electric cooperative consumers like you and the members of Congress who represent you: your House of Representatives member, and your two U.S. senators, John Warner and Jim Webb.

This campaign centers on having you ask three questions of your house member and your two Senators. These three questions are listed on a special Web site, www.ourenergy.coop. This Web site enables you to e-mail these questions to your three congressional representatives. It also contains other important information on the energy challenges facing our nation, and how you can help.

We discussed the first question, centering on the availability of sufficient power, in our July issue. We focused on the second question, centering on the technology needed to meet national climate-policy goals, in our August issue.

In this month’s issue, we focus on the affordability of power.

The question we would like for you to pose to your three members of Congress this month is:

Balancing electricity needs and environmental goals will be difficult. How much is all this going to increase my electric bill and what will you do to make it affordable?

The challenges facing our nation’s energy supply are daunting, and solving them will be difficult and time-consuming. Increases in fuel costs; increases in the demand for power; the difficulty of building needed generation units and transmission lines; growing concerns about climate change; and the need to focus more effort on conservation provide a complicated matrix of challenges. There is no single “silver bullet” solution.

So, what to do? We must insist that Congress focus on long-term planning, not just short-term fixes. We must insist that they balance cost, reliability and environmental responsibility in crafting legislation. We must insist that they create a comprehensive energy plan that covers “soup to nuts,” and not just pass a series of a la carte bills that end up costing us more and not addressing the real needs. We must insist, above all, that they protect average consumers.

Please visit www.ourenergy.coop and pose the question above to your members of Congress. Cooperatives were formed by consumers to provide themselves with the power they needed to improve their lives. Cooperatives are democratically run businesses, owned by their consumers. And there’s no greater way to protect what is truly your business than by taking part in the democratic process and making your voice heard in the halls of Washington, D.C.

Please visit www.ourenergy.coop today!


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