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Political Insiders

Let me take you inside how Washington works and make a couple of points about it.

One is that your local electric co-op understands the ins and outs of politics and is right in the middle of it, slugging it out in the fight to keep your electricity as reliable and affordable as possible.

The other is that democracy is alive and well.

In May, I traveled to the nation�s capital with 60 leaders of electric co-ops in Kentucky�CEOs and democratically elected local co-op board members. We sat in meeting rooms, listening and talking with our elected senators and representatives. We told each that we wanted them to support four positions:

1. Stop the Environmental Protection Agency from setting up rules to control global warming. We think action on climate change should come from elected officials in Congress rather than a regulatory agency like the EPA.

2. Continue federal loans that help electric co-ops extend electric service. As user-owned, not-for-profit utilities, local electric co-ops can�t raise money for large projects the same way investor-owned utilities can. Those loans, by the way, get repaid with interest.

3. Understand that electric co-ops are different from other utilities. Electric co-ops serve the most remote parts of the country, where income per mile of line is much lower than city utilities. As customer-owned utilities, they have a special mission to protect the interests of ratepayers, rather than investors.

4. Support the Rural Energy Savings Program Act, which would help electric co-op members use energy more efficiently in their homes.

Rep. Ed Whitfield, from southwest Kentucky, deserves special recognition for the Rural Energy Savings Program Act, which is sponsored by both Republicans and Democrats. It takes a certain amount of courage to promote new and bipartisan proposals during a busy legislative year with elections coming up in the fall.

That�s how our democratic system works. Those elected officials knew they were speaking to dozens of voters, who represented thousands more, as well as an important part of Kentucky�s economy.

And those politicians know that electric co-ops made the same trip last May, and they�ll make the same trip next year, arguing for affordable and reliable electricity for members of Kentucky�s electric co-ops.

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