Making your voice heard

Posted on Jun 17 2024 in Noble REMC
Legislative Conference 2024
Noble REMC CEO and President Ron Raypole, fifth from left, and fellow Hoosier co-op leaders recently met with legislators on Capitol Hill to discuss issues impacting our communities.

Ron Raypole
President and CEO

The annual Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C., which I recently attended, serves as an essential platform for sharing with our congressional delegation how decisions made in Washington impact the communities we serve.

This necessity for political involvement is why cooperative leaders annually travel to the nation’s capital to engage with legislators. While there, we advocate for you to ensure you have access to reliable and affordable power.

Among other issues, a primary concern we brought to their attention was the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recent rule for existing coal and new natural gas power generation plants. Not-for-profit electric cooperatives, like Noble REMC, have a responsibility to represent the best interest of our consumers and are concerned about the impact of this rule.

The final rule jeopardizes affordable and reliable electricity by forcing the premature closure of always available power plants while making it harder to permit, site and build critical new power plants. Unfortunately, the final rule comes at a time when reliability concerns are growing, and energy demand is increasing across the country. Indiana’s electric cooperatives support a responsible energy policy that balances Hoosiers’ energy needs with environmental concerns.

Another significant issue we raised is the protection of the rural electric infrastructure that powers our homes, schools, hospitals and businesses. The electric pole network owned by Noble REMC is also used by cable, telephone, and broadband companies. It is incumbent upon us to make sure that pole infrastructure is structurally sound for all intended uses and meets electric reliability and safety standards. However, legislative or regulatory proposals can jeopardize safety and reliability while driving up costs for electricity. We asked legislators to leave rules about our local electric infrastructure up to state policymakers and not move this to the federal level.

We also urged Congress to continue to support broadband internet initiatives in rural Indiana. In less populated areas, internet programs providing fiber to homes and businesses are a large investment and would not be possible without state and federal cost-sharing programs. It is imperative that we build adaptable broadband networks, so all Americans have a reliable, affordable and sustainable broadband internet connection.

Throughout our meetings, coordinated by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the strong support from cooperative members was evident and impactful. Legislators recognize our role as representatives of you, the rural voters, ensuring that your voices are effectively heard in Washington.

RON RAYPOLE is president and CEO of Noble REMC.