Three busloads of Kansas electric cooperative managers, trustees and staff pulled up to the Kansas State Capitol for Kansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc.’s (KEC) annual Day at the Capitol event held Jan. 23.
This annual visit to our statehouse affords KEC member co-ops an opportunity to educate lawmakers on the cooperative difference — how we differ from other electric utilities and why that difference is important when it comes to utility discussions and potential regulations. A uniform policy for large investor-owned utilities, consumer-dense municipally owned utilities and rural electric cooperatives has disproportionate effects. A one-size-fits-all policy does not work across all utilities.
In the simplest sense, electric co-ops are like DNA in that no two co-ops comprise the same consumer-member mix — some serve a majority of commercial and industrial load while others serve a majority of residential consumers. As I continue to preach: If you’ve seen one co-op, you’ve seen one co-op.
The electric cooperative entourage arriving at the statehouse en masse that crisp January afternoon was quite impressive. With an entire crop of newly elected lawmakers this session, the impact of 140 electric co-op representatives meeting with their legislators, attending House and Senate sessions, and engaging in briefs by legislative leadership left a positive — and lasting — impression. One lawmaker walking through the Kansas Statehouse rotunda commented, “electric cooperatives are everywhere.” What a terrific impact your electric cooperative leadership made at the statehouse this year. The timing could not have been better as the 2023 Kansas Legislature convened the week prior and bills, some directly affecting Kansas electric cooperatives, are working their way through the legislative process.
On behalf of KEC member co-ops, I extend sincere thanks to Senate President Ty Masterson, Speaker of the House Dan Hawkins, Senate Minority Leader Dinah Sykes, House Minority Leader Vic Miller, Chair of the Senate Utilities Committee Rob Olson, and Chair of the House Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications Committee Leo Delperdang for the extra time they spent with our electric co-op contingent during the Day at the Capitol program.
As I previously noted, several bills have been introduced that could potentially affect KEC member electric cooperatives. Managers and key staff from Brown-Atchison, Doniphan, Heartland, Pioneer, Sedgwick and Wheatland electric cooperatives answered the call to testify on behalf of KEC member electric cooperatives and on behalf of you, as a consumer-member of your electric co-op, either in person or by written testimony. If other bills crop up, or current bills get traction, co-op leaders will be ready to testify on behalf of Kansas electric cooperatives’ 200,000-plus consumer-members.
As the 2023 Kansas legislative session progresses, KEC will keep you informed of any legislation signed into law directly affecting your electric cooperative and you, as a consumer-member of your co-op.