Leaders from electric cooperatives across Virginia met with representatives of incoming Gov. Glenn Youngkin on Dec. 14 to explain their position on statewide issues that affect co-ops and the communities they serve.
Andrew Vehorn, VMD vice president of member and public affairs, said the wide-ranging discussion represented an opportunity to familiarize likely Youngkin officials with the co-op business model, and the ways in which co-ops drive economic activity in their service territories.
“We were very pleased to be able to host them at our headquarters in Glen Allen,” he said. “Building relationships such as these will be very important in dealing with the opportunities and challenges that our co-ops continue to face.”
The Youngkin team included Ali Ahmad, senior policy advisor to Youngkin’s gubernatorial campaign, and Garrison Coward, senior advisor to the Youngkin campaign. Both have extensive backgrounds in government or political activity and are likely to hold important positions in the new administration, to be sworn in on Jan. 15.
Present both in-person and virtually were CEOs and representatives of most Virginia cooperatives, as well as Marcus Harris, president and CEO of Old Dominion Electric Cooperative, and several VMD staff members. Vehorn and Sadie Gary, director of legislative affairs, led the discussion from the co-op side.
Topics included the co-op role in expanding broadband, workforce and economic development, transportation electrification, solar energy, the state of the electric grid and issues that could come before the 2022 General Assembly.
Additionally, participants discussed regulatory burdens, as Greg Rogers, president and CEO of Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative was among speakers who noted that one-size-fits-all regulatory requirements present problems for diverse, not-for-profit utilities, such as co-ops.
Youngkin’s representatives and the VMD legislative unit agreed to continue in-depth discussions in the coming weeks and beyond.
(Above Photo: Ali Ahmad (fourth from left) and Garrison Coward (fifth from left,) advisers to Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s campaign, meet with co-op leaders to discuss legislative and regulatory issues. Photo By: Steven Johnson)