AdvocacyThe Minnesota Rural Electric Association represents 1.7 million Minnesotans by actively engaging with law and policy makers at the state and federal levels.
We proactively build relationships with legislators and policymakers by educating them about how the cooperative business model puts members first and the critical role electric cooperatives play in the state’s economy.
Minnesota must maintain property tax exemption for attachments to utility distribution lines to keep electric service in rural Minnesota affordable.
Providing electric service to rural Minnesota remains significantly more costly than urban areas. The longstanding property tax exemption for meters and streetlights must be maintained in order to ensure affordable electric service to rural Minnesotans.
Minnesota’s electric cooperatives support the continued buildout of the public electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure in rural Minnesota.
EV owners must have confidence that they can fuel their EVs when needed anywhere in the state. To effectively address range anxiety associated with EVs, the vast majority of funding for the public EV charging network in Minnesota must 1) be directed to rural Minnesota; 2) cover the utility make-ready costs that would otherwise be borne by cooperative members; 3) be coordinated with electric cooperatives.
Minnesota electric cooperatives’ are committed to transparency and accountability.
Minnesota’s electric cooperatives promote practices that promote good governance. Good governance includes abiding by a strong code of ethics, disclosing and/or avoiding potential conflicts of interest, operating transparently, and keeping member data confidential.
Minnesota’s electric cooperatives are leaders in the state’s energy transition.
Your Minnesota electric cooperatives are at the heart of a decades-long, nationwide campaign to decarbonize our energy production. The electricity sector is rapidly reducing carbon emissions and is the only sector of the economy exceeding its decarbonization goals.
Our approach uses lower-cost renewable sources and balances them with other resources, as needed. This ensures safe, reliable and affordable electricity, which is crucial to support electrification of other sectors of the economy, including electric vehicles.
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and Department of Commerce play a regulatory role for investor-owned utilities (IOUs) in the rate-making process to provide checks and balances, and to ensure compliance with local, state and federal laws and policies.
While Minnesota’s electric cooperatives are not rate-regulated*, cooperatives are subject to oversight through hundreds of Minnesota state statutes and by the PUC like other utilities. Cooperatives follow Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations, National Electrical Safety Code® standards and Environmental Protection Agency regulations, to name just a few.
Additionally, Minnesota’s electric cooperatives work with USDA Rural Utilities Service (RUS). USDA RUS:
- Makes infrastructure and infrastructure improvements, including electric power infrastructure, in rural communities.
- Provides capital and leadership to maintain, expand, upgrade and modernize America’s vast rural electric infrastructure.
- Provides loans and loan guarantees to finance the construction or improvement of electric distribution, transmission and generation facilities in rural areas.
- Funds demand-side management, energy efficiency and conservation programs, and on-and off-grid renewable energy systems.
*Dakota Electric Association is rate-regulated by the MN PUC
Political Action Committees (PACs)
A statewide or national association’s credibility depends on the knowledge, confidence, and enthusiasm of its members. MREA succeeds because its members interact and engage government officials in the business of powering homes, farms, and businesses.
Telling the cooperative story is essential, particularly when it comes to the unique challenges our members face. We also advocate for flexibility so that electric cooperatives can operate efficiently and continue to provide safe, reliable, and affordable electricity even in the most remote areas of the state.
Political action committees (PACs) are an easy way for co-op members to become involved in the political process. PACs allow ordinary citizens to pool their small contributions to make a meaningful donation to legislative candidates who support their point of view. That is precisely what our federal Action Committee for Rural Electrification (ACRE®) and state Rural Electric Political Action Committee (REPAC) do.
REPAC and ACRE allow electric co-op directors, managers, employees, and members to more actively participate in the legislative process. They allow us to join together to make our voice strong on electric utility issues. Without regard to party affiliation, our PACs make contributions to legislative candidates who show an interest in electric co-ops’ legislative positions. ACRE also has a subdivision that gets co-op consumer-owners involved called ACRE Co-op Owners for Political Action. ACRE and REPAC promote the improvement of government by encouraging electric co-ops to take a more active and effective part in government affairs. REPAC and ACRE, in conjunction with our national and state grassroots efforts, encourage electric co-ops to know and understand the nature and actions of their government, the critical political issues, and legislative records.
Legislative affairs on the state level is an essential program for electric co-ops, especially as the state legislature is considering electric power needs, emissions, affordability, reliability, and other important changes. To influence electric industry issues, we must have broad-based legislative support. Because we need support from both parties and all areas of the state, rural and metro, REPAC operates on a statewide basis with all state legislators supporting your local legislators and those legislators who have no electric co-ops in their district.
The growing size of REPAC informs legislators that there is an increasingly high level of interest by our membership in their legislative activities, especially issues on electric industry reliability and other changes. REPAC is held accountable not only by its members but also by the regulations of the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board. We encourage contributions of $50 or $100. Contributions of $100 receive a Willie Wiredhand pin to show your support of electric cooperatives in Minnesota. The contribution option of $25 is open for members as well. The REPAC contribution cycle runs from January 1 to December 31.
The Action Committee for Rural Electrification (ACRE®) is the grassroots political action committee of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. ACRE represents the interests of the nation’s nearly 930 non-profit electric cooperative systems and their 42 million consumers in rural, suburban and urban areas.
ACRE was organized to support federal candidates who will speak for and protect the interests of electric cooperatives and their consumers. ACRE is bipartisan, and its contributions are based on a candidate’s record of support for rural electrification, not on his/her political affiliation. The process by which candidates are chosen to receive support from ACRE is rigorous, requiring the approval of state ACRE committees, NRECA’s ACRE staff and electric co-op state association CEOs.
ACRE supports congressional candidates, regardless of party, who share public policy goals that are consistent with the mission of member-owned electric cooperatives. Also, half of the contributions to ACRE are returned to the statewide associations for use in state elections. ACRE does not contribute to presidential campaigns.
The PAC is comprised of more than 35,000 individual contributions from electric cooperative directors, managers, employees and consumers nationwide. The average donation to ACRE is $44 per year. ACRE is truly a grassroots PAC and is a reflection of our membership.
The ACRE contribution cycle runs from January 1 and ends on December 31. All PAC contributions, including ACRE’s monthly disclosure report, are available from the Federal Election Commission’s website at www.fec.gov.
ACRE Co-op Owners for Political Action
As you have heard many times before, having a business plan is essential for the day-to-day operations of how a cooperative does business. Having a political strategy is just as important. Part of that political plan is the support of ACRE®. Opening new fields of opportunity, ACRE Co-op Owners for Political Action® for consumer-owners unleashes a more powerful voice for electric cooperatives.
NRECA Chief Executive Officer Jim Matheson sees this program as an opportunity for electric cooperative consumers to become more involved in the political process and supportive of their cooperatives. Their participation in ACRE Co-op Owners is the next logical step in ensuring that the voice of rural electrification remains loud and clear in helping shape the electric cooperative agenda. Along with a strong grassroots network, Co-op Owners for Political Action is another essential tool for the cooperative business model.
For more information on who is eligible to join ACRE and ACRE Co-op Owners for Political Action, and how to build an active program at your co-op, email ACRE, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Policy decisions impact co-op members in many ways. Your voice can make a difference.
Join us in advocating for safe, affordable, reliable electricity – delivered in a responsible manner as well as promoting a bright and continuous economic future for our state and members.
You can find or contact your Minnesota State Senator and Representative by going to https://www.leg.mn.gov/.
Visit Voices for Cooperative Power to learn about and engage on important issues impacted cooperatives across the country.