By Steven Johnson | ECT Staff Writer
NRECA CEO Jo Ann Emerson urged more than 900 electric cooperative leaders to raise the profile of co-ops as a way of strengthening engagement among their members.
Speaking at the Regions 1&4 meeting, Emerson said member-owners across the country will respond positively if co-ops adopt a more aggressive approach in telling their story of self-reliance and opportunity.
“Uniting our members through our cooperatives is the best way to unite them for our communities,” she said. “Then, we can enlist their voices and their talents for the challenges ahead.”
That might involve more use of social media such as Facebook or Twitter, or a phone call to a local reporter, Emerson explained during a Sept. 5 address to directors, managers and staffers from 14 states.
Whatever the medium, though, she said co-ops must underscore that they stand for their members by supporting innovation, economic development, a balanced energy portfolio and a safe, reliable and affordable supply of electricity.
Familiarizing more people with that co-op message will help to generate an active membership ready to be mobilized during legislative and regulatory battles that could affect the future and quality of life in rural America, Emerson said.
“We ask you to elevate the great work you do and put it in the limelight,” she said. “We have a huge opportunity to make a difference, if we all work together.”
Emerson’s remarks came on the first of the two-day meeting. Four more regionals will be held during September and October.
Under the theme “Co-op Nation: Strong and Proud,” officials from co-ops in the East, mid-Atlantic and Great Lakes regions convened at the Norfolk Waterside Marriott to consider issues affecting the electric cooperative network and its members.
The meeting placed a strong emphasis on the member resolutions process, as Kirk Johnson, NRECA senior vice president of government relations, updated participants on the status of several public policy resolutions.
“These resolutions are our guideposts,” he said.
Other NRECA staffers outlined a compendium of proposed resolutions and amendments to existing resolutions that will be considered at all regional meetings. Included in that is a resolution urging NRECA to work with its members to support a fair and equitable Columba River Treaty for ratepayers in the Pacific Northwest.
During Sept. 6 business meetings, delegates from each region voted on the resolutions, as will voting delegates at the other upcoming regionals.