December 8, 2023

Rural Cooperatives Host Legislative Conference

Rural Cooperatives

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer attended the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s legislative conference and spoke to the group about the importance of every rural cooperative.

Electric cooperatives, like Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative, were represented at the conference. Congressman Hoyer (D-Md., 5th) is a SMECO customer himself, and spoke about the importance of cooperatives from his own perspective.

“I’m proud to be a SMECO customer in St. Mary’s County, which has been served by our local rural electric cooperative for more than 80 years. I’m one of the 40 million Americans who receive their electricity through rural electric cooperatives nationwide,” Congressman Hoyer said.

Because of that experience, Congressman Hoyer said he has long been a firm believer in the mission of rural electric cooperatives and their continued success. He said the success of cooperatives depends on their ability to adapt to new challenges and opportunities.

“Climate change is one of those challenges – and one of those opportunities as well,” he said. “Though it has brought us deadly and destructive storms, rising sea levels, and changes in energy demand due to more extreme temperatures, climate change has also given America’s energy sector an opportunity to rise to a new set of challenges and demonstrate the innovation and leadership that make our country the envy of the world.”

Maryland’s rural cooperatives have already begun to take advantage of the opportunity to tackle climate change by moving ahead with new, cleaner, and more sustainable ways to generate and deliver energy.

“By focusing on making renewable energy cost-effective, you are helping to serve not only the interests of your customers but of our country and our planet. SMECO, for example, has launched a solar subsidiary that operates a solar farm and uses it to power its engineering and operations center,” Congressman Hoyer said.

These initiatives help everyone. Surplus energy is sent back into the grid, and then, as a great bonus, the energy generated by SMECO solar in one year prevents pollution equivalent to 1,600 cars on the road.

“Our energy sector is transforming, and success won’t be measured only in keeping up but by leading that transformation. The current administration ignores the realities of that transformation at our nation’s peril. Denying climate change is to deny America’s important role in leading the global response and in doing so by tapping into new technologies and practices that make our own economy stronger. Investing in renewables has the potential to yield millions of new American jobs in the rural and suburban communities you serve. Jobs that won’t be outsourced. Jobs that pay well.”

Congressman Hoyer went on to say that the next 10 to 15 years will be critical to the history of American energy. “If we hope to avoid the worst and most destructive consequences of climate change, we will need to change our energy system substantially. And Congress has a role to play in making that happen,” he said.

He said House Democrats are working to meet the new challenges, introducing legislation to adopt the carbon pollution reduction goals and higher efficiency standards of the Paris Climate Agreement, and they are continuing to explore ways to promote renewable technologies. Hoyer said the Democrats are committed to working with rural electric cooperatives to ensure that every facet of the energy sector has a seat at the table and is able to communicate to congress what it needs to succeed in helping the nation achieve these goals.

Congressman Hoyer said Congress needs to invest in 21st-century infrastructure, which is one of the three core components of the Make It In America plan he has led for the past several years, along with education and entrepreneurship.

“Nearly everyone recognizes the potential in an infrastructure bill to create good jobs, promote economic development – particularly in rural America – and bring costs down for consumers. And we’re not just talking about roads and rails and bridges and ports. We’re talking about rural broadband and America’s electrical grid – and about new technologies that help store energy. We need to build an electrical grid that is more reliable, efficient, and resilient and supports the generation and distribution of clean, renewable energy resources.”

Follow Congressman Hoyer on Facebook and Twitter.

For more information about House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, visit his Leader member page.

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