The first week of May, Florida Keys Electric Cooperative Board of Directors David Ritz and Craig Belcher joined hundreds of electric cooperative leaders who converged on Capitol Hill for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) Legislative Conference. The group urged Congress to help co-ops take advantage of energy incentives, reduce their federal debt, and access billions of infrastructure dollars.
“We are focused on the federal policy priorities that directly impact our local cooperative, FKEC,” said David Ritz. “Working with NRECA, we have identified more than two dozen different components in the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill passed by Congress last year that may interest electric co-ops.”
The co-ops have banded together in consortiums to seek funding for projects in five categories: electric vehicles, microgrids, cybersecurity, natural hazards, and smart grids and data.
Along with NRECA officials meeting with federal agencies, Ritz and Belcher met with the staff of several U.S. congressmen and senators who make decisions about how to distribute funding from the bill.
“We continue to be actively engaged in the process to represent the best interest of our FKEC member-consumers,” stated Belcher.
Ritz added that the co-op utilities are also asking members of Congress to help pass additional bills this year. The first would provide direct federal payments for electric co-ops to develop new energy resources and technologies, including renewable energy, battery storage projects, nuclear energy facilities, and carbon capture and storage.
NRECA is also pushing lawmakers to include a direct-pay incentive for co-ops in any tax bill that Congress takes up this year. A direct-pay stimulus would put co-ops on a level playing field with investor-owned utilities, which already receive federal tax breaks for providing power from solar.
Another critical concern of co-op leaders is the supply chain. It now takes twice as long to acquire needed transformers, wire, and other material. This issue is a particular concern if a storm impacts cooperatives and it becomes urgent to restore power. “We are asking members of Congress to contact FEMA and alert them of this priority,” said Belcher.
Florida Keys Electric Cooperative is a member-owned, not-for-profit electric utility serving approximately 33,000 accounts in the Upper and Middle Keys. Elected by FKEC members, the co-op’s nine board of directors represent the interests of power consumers in four voting districts from Key Largo to Marathon. You can learn more at www.FKEC.com.
Above, Florida Keys Electric Cooperative Board of Directors Craig Belcher (left) and David Ritz (right) talked with Congressman Carlos Gimenez’s Legislative Director E.J. Valentine while in Capitol Hill recently. The FKEC directors joined hundreds of electric co-op leaders for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association Legislative Conference to urge Congress to help co-ops take advantage of energy incentives, reduce their federal debt, and access billions of infrastructure dollars.