An Open Letter to Our Members of Congress

by Richard G. Johnstone Jr., Exec. Editor

Richard Johnstone

Dear Senators Webb and Warner, and Representatives Wittman, Nye, Scott, Forbes, Perriello, Goodlatte, Cantor, Moran, Boucher, Wolf, and Connolly:

Electric cooperatives support cost-effective, targeted efforts that will help our nation continue its long tradition of providing reliable, affordable electricity to citizens in the four corners of this Commonwealth, and indeed of this nation. We support prudent investments by the federal government aimed at diversifying our nationís energy portfolio and making our country more energy-efficient and independent.

Now more than ever, we are very concerned about what rising energy costs are doing to average families across this country. Already, many are having difficulty paying their electric bill. Especially during this time of economic hardship and uncertainty, please be sure as you address hugely important energy issues to balance environmental needs with the need to keep electricity affordable for average citizens. Electricity must remain a necessity accessible to all, not a luxury available only to the wealthy and privileged.

Electric cooperatives are working hard to keep electric bills affordable for our member-consumers. We understand that dealing with the energy and environmental policy issues facing you is complicated and confounding, and thus will take time. We hope and ask that you take the time necessary to address these issues in meaningful, comprehensive, reasonable ways, ways that will address all sectors of our economy and all fuel sources, and in doing so will develop a master energy blueprint that can help guide us to energy independence.

Virginiaís electric cooperatives are ready to assist you in this important work, as you try to balance complex, and at times competing, priorities, and find solutions that are in the general publicís best interests. Electric cooperatives are the largest consumer-owned utility group in the nation, and one of the largest consumer groups of any type, serving about 40 million Americans (including one million Virginians), in 47 of our nationís 50 states. We take our role as consumer advocates seriously, and we pledge to speak out loudly to protect the best interests of electricity consumers as the various energy-related debates just ahead take place in Congress. One thing that simply must be protected is a familyís ability to afford basic electric service.

We recognize that you face a daunting matrix of difficult, at times dueling, issues, including: maintaining a reliable and diverse array of fuel sources; meeting the rising demand for power attributable to growth in population, and to growth in the number of personal and business applications that are dependent upon electricity; encouraging energy efficiency and conservation whenever and wherever possible; and figuring out how best to deal with the technological and financial challenges involved with the climate change issue. Finally, and just as importantly, we need to be able to achieve these goals while strongly protecting the pocketbooks of Virginiaís and Americaís energy consumers.

Virginiaís electric cooperatives look forward to working with you to be sure that the public policy decisions that Congress makes will allow us to continue to fulfill the core mission we undertook in the 1930s: delivering reliable, affordable, environmentally responsible electricity to our member-consumers.

(Postscript to electric cooperative member-consumers: Please send your own letter or email to your Representative, and to Senators Webb and Warner, by visiting www.ourenergy.coop. Join fellow cooperative members across the Commonwealth and across the nation in making your voice heard to our federal elected officials on important energy and environmental issues. Thank you!)


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