NRECA Board Concludes Summer MeetingBy Steven Johnson | ECT Staff Writer Published: July 1st, 2014
The NRECA Board concluded its 2014 summer meeting June 26, after what association officials called a busy and productive session.
During the four-day meeting, the board reviewed association priorities and its strategic course, heard from several guest speakers, and laid the groundwork for the regional meetings that will start Sept. 4 in Indianapolis.
The board even added a little hospitality to its meeting at NRECA headquarters in Arlington, Va., with a shrimp and barbecue event for association staffers, hosted by cookers from the Louisiana, Oklahoma and Missouri statewide associations.
“You’ve served the membership well,” President Curtis Nolan said at the end of the meeting. “And you will continue to serve them by taking what you’ve done back to your states and your local boards.”
Among many topics, the board and its committees considered proposed Environmental Protection Agency regulations on greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants, with an emphasis on a unified strategic approach.
NRECA CEO Jo Ann Emerson told the board that the association plans to take a “critical, but constructive ” approach to the EPA proposed rule. She told the board its guidance will be important during a process that could take several years to resolve.
“Our working plan is to understand these proposed regulations, communicate facts to our members and give them messages to use, to attempt to influence the rule as it moves forward, and to give electric cooperatives the support they need at the state level to respond,” she said.
The 10-member National Resolutions Committee, which met June 20 in advance of the board meeting, will forward eight resolutions for consideration at this fall’s regional meetings as part of the member resolutions process.
Six are amendments to existing resolutions, while two are new. The proposed new resolutions support gas/power harmonization and development of new consumer-centered business models.
Recommended for deletion was a pair of resolutions—one related to ethanol and biodiesel development and another on federal land use management.
The committee reviewed 48 proposals and topics submitted by 14 cooperative systems and one committee of the NRECA Board. It will forward the recommended resolutions for consideration at the fall’s regional meetings, and explain in writing why it chose not to forward the others.
“The Resolutions Committee was very pleased with the high level of member participation,” Nolan said. The meeting was streamed live on cooperative.com.
During its meeting, the board approved a 2015 general membership dues rate increase averaging 3 percent, which makes the new average cost per meter about $1.06. Officials said the increase will cover rising costs in personnel and other areas.
Several guest speakers also updated the board on issues related to rural development.
Rural Utilities Service Administrator John Padalino urged co-op participation in a new RUS program that will enable co-ops to help members cope with the high upfront cost of energy-efficiency improvements. “It is about self-empowerment,” he said.
Sheldon Petersen, CEO of the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corp., said co-ops are in a good financial position generally, but will face challenges such as EPA regulations and distributed generation.
Shirley Bloomfield, CEO of NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association, said partnering with NRECA on deployment of rural broadband will help make rural America relevant. “We’re getting really excited about what rural America brings to the table.”