NASHVILLE, Tenn.—NRECA CEO Jim Matheson welcomed more than 5,000 attendees to the 2022 PowerXchange with a message lauding electric cooperatives’ reputation and accomplishments as well as their aspiration to move their communities forward.
“That’s what I respect most about the work you do,” Matheson said at the March 7 general session. “And it’s my motivation to keep improving—to keep searching for ways we can be better.”
Matheson noted that electric co-ops are viewed as a trusted source by Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill about where their communities stand, and he discussed how NRECA has worked to fortify that reputation.
NRECA is using more effective ways to reach elected officials, including digital and social media tools, modernizing its grassroots outreach, and creating stronger connections between members of Congress and the electric co-op communities they were elected to represent, Matheson said.
“We’ve actually tested the results and measured our progress. We know these efforts are paying dividends for NRECA and for you,” he said. “Today, our reputation in Washington is more durable than ever.
“When policymakers look at every other organization in the energy industry, they see a partisan set of special interests. They see a friend or a foe, based on their politics. But when they look at America’s electric cooperatives, they see communities. They see people. They see you. As a result, in Washington D.C., we stand out,” he said.
Matheson outlined four co-op values he highlights when meeting with policymakers:
• Co-ops strengthen communities through innovation and member support.
• Co-ops provide essential services such as broadband where no one else will.
• Co-ops provide reliable service from a resilient system.
• Co-ops accelerate the advancement of technology in rural America.
“This is our job at NRECA,” Matheson added, “to help create the foundation so you can do your best work to serve your members. To be a voice for the good you represent and the possibilities you create in your community.
“We always say the electric co-op is about serving the member at the end of the line,” he said. “But when you challenge yourself … and aspire to a larger purpose and a greater good, the thing about the end of the line becomes the fact that you never really get there. There’s always something more we can do to keep our communities moving forward.”
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