Rep. Angie Craig was just a freshman member of Congress in 2019, but one of the first things she did was throw her support behind the RURAL Act, helping to preserve the crucial tax-exempt status of not-for-profit electric cooperatives.

Now in her third term, the Minnesota Democrat continues to prove that she is a strong champion for co-ops and their consumer-members, Minnesota co-op leaders say.

Craig pushed for co-op-friendly provisions in the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure law, which provided billions for broadband deployment, electric vehicle charging networks, electric transmission, energy storage, carbon capture and other clean energy technologies.

She has been part of a congressional team overseeing the implementation of the landmark law.

The congresswoman also supported a key provision in the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act that provides direct-pay tax credits for co-ops when they deploy new energy technologies, including carbon capture, nuclear, energy storage, renewables and more. The direct federal incentives help put co-ops on equal footing with investor-owned utilities, which have long enjoyed tax breaks for developing renewable energy projects.

That legislation also created a $9.7 billion clean energy grant and loan program—dubbed Empowering Rural America (New ERA)—just for co-ops interested in developing new energy technologies, including carbon capture, nuclear, energy storage, renewables and more.

“She has supported our work on carbon capture, which is especially meaningful coming from someone on the Democratic side, where it has not always been popular,” says Darrick Moe, president and CEO of the Minnesota Rural Electric Association. “She has been one of the members of Congress who has consistently worked with us on making sure that carbon capture and sequestration is supported as an option in clean energy programs.”

Moe sees Craig as “a constructive moderate” on policy issues. She serves on both the House Agriculture Committee and the Energy and Commerce Committee, which have jurisdiction over a wide range of issues affecting co-ops.

“I’d describe her as a good listener and a practical problem-solver,” he says. “She’s gotten to know us well enough that she is an energetic supporter of electric co-op causes.”

NRECA lobbyist Will Mitchell served as Craig’s legislative director from 2019 through early 2023 and says the congresswoman “was very intentional from Day 1 about being an accessible and bipartisan member of Congress.”

“As her former legislative director, I can confidently say Minnesota’s 2nd Congressional District and its 350,000-plus electric cooperative consumer-members have someone looking out for them in Washington who is effective and understands how policymaking gets done,” Mitchell says. “Angie’s approach to legislating and listening to constituents from all sides has positioned her as a pragmatic voice for rural America.”

Craig says that “we’ve got the tools right now to build a more sustainable future for our nation.”

“And that’s why I’m working in Congress to help us meet the moment—by supporting bipartisan legislation that will create good-paying jobs, lower costs for consumers and make the targeted energy investments in rural America we need to keep our country moving forward.”

Margaret Schreiner, vice chairman of the board of directors at Great River Energy, says Craig always makes time for Minnesota co-op leaders, meeting with them at least three times a year in Washington, D.C.

“She’s absolutely everywhere in the district,” Schreiner says. “She has enormous energy. She broke her ankle last summer and that didn’t even slow her down. She went everywhere using one of those scooters you rest your knee on.”

The congresswoman uses her position on the Agriculture Committee to push for strong funding for Rural Utilities Service programs that help co-ops deploy broadband, bring jobs to rural communities and improve their infrastructure, Schreiner and Moe say.

“She directs us toward funding opportunities,” Schreiner says. “She’s just an all-around hard worker for us.”