National Policy and Rural Electric Cooperatives
Dear Lane Electric Community:
There are national policy issues that affect rural communities and the electric co-ops that serve them. Lane Electric and electric co-ops nationwide join together as the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) to advocate for a sustainable rural lifestyle. Starting with the creation of Lane Electric in 1939, electricity brought modern living to rural Lane County.
We continue to deliver on that essential need for safe, reliable and affordable power. We also continue to care about the sustainability of the communities we serve and live in.
Here are two national policy issues that are important for rural America and rural Lane County.
Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
The federal LIHEAP Program provides essential living support to our most vulnerable members who need help with electricity bills, especially during Oregon’s long winter season. Last year nearly 600 Lane Electric members received LIHEAP help totaling over $181,000. That’s a HUGE need! For comparison, our Member Assistance Program that is funded by your kind generosity helped 62 members totaling over $11,000.
So as you can see, LIHEAP funding plays a critical role for meeting basic needs of Lane Electric members. Congress appropriates LIHEAP funding every year, and every year co-ops must advocate for the household needs in rural communities.
Renewable resources are the present and future of Lane Electric. Your power supply is over 95% renewable hydropower and solar—resources that naturally replenish themselves. Lane Electric also owns part of a landfill methane gas plant that recycles waste to energy, and will soon own part of a 1-acre solar farm in Umatilla County.
Likewise, over 90 percent of America’s rural electric co-ops are delivering renewable energy to their members. Federal funding for low-interest Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREBs) for renewables development is an important funding tool for co-ops. Equally as important is avoiding federal mandates for specific renewables and reserving to local co-ops the choice of how to envision their future clean energy needs.
You have a role to play on these co-op issues. I said it last month and I’ll say it again: A co-op is, at its heart, a grassroots organization created by the community it serves. Lane Electric is no different and we need your support when we engage Congress and the President on issues like those above.
Please help make Lane Electric’s voice heard by policymakers by joining our national grassroots network. You can do so by going to www.vote.coop and learn about how co-ops are speaking up for rural communities across America. The website has news feeds, videos, and voter information to help you stay informed. Click on the “Register” link in the upper right corner. And don’t forget to register for your Oregon electric co-op grassroots network at www.oreca-action.org.