Postcards from Missouri
Mountain of mail from co-op members asks senators to keep electricity affordable and reliable in climate change debate
They came in floods. Some were printed on bright yellow paper. Others were clearly copies made by neighbors wanting to share. Some were on newsprint clipped from the pages of this publication, while others were from bill stuffers sent to their members by electric cooperatives across the nation.
As they arrived in huge containers from the U.S. Postal Service, more than half a million strong, employees of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association sorted them by state and boxed them up for delivery to Capitol Hill. This flood of mail was a grassroots effort by the nation’s electric cooperatives to show senators how rural people feel about climate change legislation.
With the U.S. Senate poised to begin debate on climate change legislation, Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives CEO Barry Hart, along with Vice President David Klindt and N.W. Electric Power Cooperative CEO Don McQuitty, personally delivered nearly 60,000 postcards from Missouri electric cooperative consumer-members to the state’s senators, Kit Bond and Claire McCaskill.
The cards were signed by concerned electric cooperative members from the pages of Rural Missouri magazine or at cooperative annual meetings, fairs, festivals, sporting events, church suppers, the state fair and the Tour of Missouri bike race.
These are in addition to more than 600,000 e-mails sent to Congress by Missouri cooperative members through the Our Energy, Our Future campaign, which was enacted in 2008 to give rural people a say in the climate change debate. Nationwide, 2.6 million messages have been sent, all urging elected officials to protect consumers from rate shock.
Joining representatives from 25 other statewide associations, Hart urged Sens. Bond and McCaskill to work with electric cooperatives to ensure climate change legislation that is fair, affordable and achievable.
“We want to make sure our members’ voices get heard,” said Hart. “The thousands of cards are tangible evidence that cooperative consumers are paying attention and have real concerns about this legislation.”
Added Glenn English, CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association: “The response from cooperative members has been overwhelming. Boxes on top of boxes on top of boxes of signed postcards — that is what a genuine grassroots campaign looks like.”
Besides delivering the postcards, the Missouri delegation used the opportunity to talk to the senators about a joint study commissioned by most of Missouri’s electricity suppliers. That report showed electric bills could rise as much as 77 percent under the House climate change bill.
More than 500,000 postcards, the first wave in an ongoing postcard campaign, were delivered to Senate offices during the Climate Change Rally sponsored by the national association. “You might want to tell your senators today that this is the beginning of the campaign, not the end,” English said during the rally.
The mountain of mail was well received by Missouri’s senators. Bond, an outspoken critic of the cap-and-trade legislation passed by the House this summer, said the large volume of mail reinforced what he has been hearing from consumers.
“It’s hard to believe, but Boxer-Kerry (the Senate climate change bill introduced by Sen. Barbara Boxer and Sen. John Kerry) is even worse than the other California-Massachusetts bill, Waxman-Markey. My Missouri constituents are saying no to this job-killing and tax-raising bill, and so will I.”
Sen. McCaskill, too, expressed concerns about the proposed legislation. “I haven’t been convinced yet that the cap-and-trade system is the best way to address climate change,” she said. “We don’t want to create another market that is fraught with problems and not enough oversight. We just went through a meltdown because of problems with Wall Street and investment firms.”
She wants Congress to put more pressure on China and India to reduce their own emissions. “I want us to lead the world in climate change, but I don’t want us to be suckers,” she said. Consumers still can get involved by logging on to www.ourenergy.coop or by inquiring at their local electric cooperative office.
Our Energy, Our Future
Grassroots campaign takes the voice of the consumer to Capitol Hill.
At Cuivre River, the voice of the consumer is paramount and powerful. We believe it has also been missing from the conversation in our national capitol about our changing energy landscape.
The Our Energy, Our Future campaign gives you — cooperative members and all citizens — the chance to participate in this conversation and make your voices heard.
As consumer advocates, electric cooperatives all across the country are concerned about a looming energy crisis created by growing energy demand, decreasing energy capacity, and rising costs to address climate change. We agree that increased efficiency and renewable energy are critical for our energy future. We also believe these strategies are only part of the long term solution to sustain a safe, reliable, affordable electric supply and maintain the quality of life in the communities we serve.
Add your voice to the conversation we have started with our legislators at www.ourenergy.coop or send your own message using contact information from the site. You’ll find a portal for your e-mail message or you may print a letter to mail. If you’d like us to ask elected officials on your behalf, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with your contact information or call the cooperative’s Communications Department: 800.392.3709, ext. 234, 230 or 330. We’re asking legislators to listen to the voices of consumers who seek solutions that balance climate change goals, reliability and affordability.
Meanwhile, on behalf of Cuivre River members we continue to look out for our members, working to help them manage energy use, reduce the demand for energy, stretch their energy dollar and provide service that is second to none. Our Green Power program, which allows members to purchase energy from renewable resources, and our Take Control & Save energy efficiency initiative — encompassing energy audits, rebates, and education — are examples of how we promote the wise and efficient use of our resources and help members save energy and money.