Electric cooperative leaders advocated for rural Illinois both on the state and national level this spring during Electric Cooperative Lobby Day in Springfield on April 16 and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s Legislative Conference April 21-24. During both events, electric co-op representatives met with elected officials to discuss legislation concerning electric cooperatives.

“It is necessary that electric cooperative leaders engage with elected officials to discuss the issues impacting our co-ops and their consumer-members,” said Nick Reitz, vice president of government relations at the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives (AIEC). “These events provide a great opportunity to advocate for our co-op priorities, share the impact of proposed legislation and tell our co-op story.”

During Lobby Day in the Illinois State Capitol, more than 80 cooperative leaders representing 29 entities visited with state senators and representatives regarding the need for broadband in rural Illinois and the opposition to upcoming legislation that threatens local control and broadband.

During the Legislative Conference, more than 1,200 electric cooperative leaders gathered in Washington, D.C., including 40 representing Illinois electric cooperative consumer-members, to urge Congress to oppose the EPA’s power plant rule and support full funding of U.S. Agriculture Department (USDA) programs that benefit rural America.

Illinois electric co-op leaders met with staff members in the offices of several elected officials, including Senator Dick Durbin and U.S. Representatives Nikki Budzinski, Mike Bost, Eric Sorensen, Mary Miller, Darin LaHood and Raja Krishnamoorthi.

“Legislative Conference is a chance for Congress to hear directly from their co-op constituents,” said Hill Thomas, NRECA’s vice president of legislative affairs. “Because we are electric utility experts and have our finger on the pulse of rural communities, our members make very effective advocates.”