Rep. John Curtis’s connection to Utah’s electric cooperatives began long before his 2017 election to Congress.
During his eight-year tenure as mayor of Provo, Curtis served on the board of directors of the Utah Municipal Power Agency, which has a small ownership share in the Bonanza Power Plant.
The coal-fired plant’s principal owner is Deseret Power Electric Cooperative, a generation and transmission co-op that provides power to its six distribution co-op members and sells surplus power to others.
“Mayor Curtis, while chairing that board, came out and toured the facility and will often recall that when discussing power issues on Capitol Hill and the role baseload/dispatchable power plays in our energy future,” says Jeff Peterson, executive director of the Utah Rural Electric Cooperative Association.
Since coming to Congress, Curtis has been “a rock star and one of our strongest co-op supporters,” Peterson says. “Any request we have made of his office he has answered—and he answers fast. We never have to wait or wonder for follow-up. He and his staff are quick to jump on issues when they arise.”
The Republican congressman is the founder and chairman of the Conservative Climate Caucus. The group’s stated goal is to “educate House Republicans on climate policies and legislation consistent with conservative values.”
“We are probably one of his loudest constituents on making sure federal policies do not get ahead of technology or reliability, and he has been a steady voice advocating for that while also saying we need to be active in being part of the solution,” Peterson says. “He is a consensus builder.”
Curtis, who serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, regularly signs on to NRECA letters urging lawmakers to support co-op priorities.
“Whenever we come to D.C., he has changed his schedule to meet with us, give us tours and more,” Peterson says. “He does the same when the kids come out to D.C. for Youth Tour—and his socks have always been a hit with them.”
The congressman is known for his collection of several hundred pairs of colorful socks, which include holiday themes and loud stripes.
“On a personal level, there is no one more receptive to work with,” Peterson says. “Congressman Curtis takes time to listen, cares about the individuals and issues, and goes above and beyond to help. He has been a huge asset to cooperatives in Utah and the country.”
Curtis won a special election in November 2017 to fill the remaining term of former GOP Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who resigned in June of that year. Curtis has won re-election three times since then.
Curtis says he knows “firsthand the value electric cooperatives provide to their rural communities.”
“They have been a great partner as I continue my work in Congress to find solutions to ensure Utahns have affordable and reliable energy,” Curtis says. “The years ahead present challenges and opportunities for electricity generation, such as permitting, public lands issues and expanding transmission. I look forward to working with cooperatives to ensure their voice is heard in Washington.”