NRECA CEO Jim Matheson used his remarks at the 2023 CEO Close-Up conference to brief electric cooperative leaders on last year’s significant accomplishments and emphasize how collaboration will be key to continued progress this year.
“We can’t rest on our past wins,” Matheson told the annual gathering in Marco Island, Florida, on Jan. 9. “In 2023, we must work together to continue advocating for key priorities for co-ops and our communities.”
This, he said, means ensuring policymakers “understand the true significance of affordability and reliability in the electric sector…[and] that today’s energy decisions will determine whether there are sufficient resources for the lights to come on tomorrow.”
With billions of federal dollars flowing for infrastructure this year, NRECA will double down advocating for more efficient and timely permitting and siting of new electric generation and transmission projects, he said. He advised cooperatives to visit the Infrastructure Resource Hub on cooperative.com, where NRECA members have exclusive access to timely infrastructure information and grant writers and can join a topic-based consortium to pursue funding requests.
Matheson also discussed the recently launched NRECA Broadband, noting the participation of several high-ranking government officials at the first Broadband Leadership Summit in November.
“Every agency dealing with broadband wants to work with us and find ways to close the digital divide,” he said. “Our voice matters in Washington.”
He called out the “generational policy wins” that NRECA and member co-ops earned in 2022, including direct-pay incentives, which put co-ops on a level playing field with other entities able to take advantage of federal tax breaks, and new legislation creating a $9.7 billion voluntary grant and loan program exclusively for electric co-ops.
“We continue to engage with the agencies that are establishing the rules for these programs so they most benefit cooperatives,” he said. “These wins will have meaningful impacts on how we do business for many years to come.”
Matheson said he is confident that NRECA will be effective in 2023 because electric co-ops operate with nonpartisan conviction in the service of their members.
“The partnership between NRECA and each of you is key to how we have developed a sterling reputation in Washington,” he said. “Our partnership is essential as we work to achieve big accomplishments for the families, businesses and communities you serve.”