Representatives from Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware cooperatives arrived in our nation’s Capitol in early May to advocate about industry challenges to their congressional representatives. At the annual NRECA Legislative Conference, cooperatives and the VMD Government Affairs team had an opportunity to meet with co-op leaders from across the country to discuss the pressing issues facing the electric industry.

From left, Stephanie Kane of ODEC and Lindsey Watson and Tracey Steiner of Rappahannock Electric Cooperative at the NRECA Legislative Conference.

The conference began with a welcome reception and transitioned into briefings from NRECA staffers about our national policy agenda. Advocates were briefed on three key issues:

1) direct pay tax credits for not-for-profit cooperatives to benefit from ownership of energy innovation assets,
2) Rural Utilities Service refinancing, and
3) discussion of projects to be funded by the bipartisan infrastructure law.

NRECA also presented a panel discussion with Hill staffers on best practices for advocacy in congressional offices.

Following the briefings from NRECA, advocates took to the Hill to share the cooperative story with congressional staffers.
The House of Representatives was in recess last week, and while members of Congress themselves were unavailable to meet, VMD cooperatives were successful in building and strengthening relationships with policy staff in legislative offices.

Cooperatives met with staff from the offices of Reps. Rob Wittman (VA-01), Jennifer Wexton (VA-10), Elaine Luria (VA-02), Donald McEachin (VA-04), Bob Good (VA-05), Morgan Griffith (VA-09), Andy Harris (MD-01), and Sens. Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin (MD), and Mark Warner (VA).

In addition to the NRECA policy priorities, Government Affairs staff members and co-op advocates discussed imminent challenges that co-ops are facing with supply chain shortages in the utility industry.

Discussion with Hill staff personnel emphasized rapidly increasing costs of raw materials used to make utility supplies, as well as skyrocketing costs of shipping those materials for manufacture. The group also discussed extended lead times on new supplies such as transformers, which have more than tripled in recent months. Hill staffers in every congressional office were extremely concerned about the challenges co-ops are facing on supply chain issues and asked to be kept informed as the situation develops.

VMD cooperatives are proud to have some of the strongest ties to their congressional delegation and have been honored to host them for many in-district visits to showcase the cooperative difference. VMD Government Affairs staff members will continue to engage with the entire delegation both in-district and on the Hill to ensure that cooperatives have a seat at the table for key discussions about federal energy policy.

—Report by Sadie Gary, Director of Legislative Affairs, VMD Association