Educating Our Legislators On Electric Reliability

Published by Bob Hance on Thursday, June 1, 2023 in Electric

Over the last year, I’ve had a few columns about grid reliability and the potential for rolling blackouts due to supply not being able to meet demand. I continue to bring it up because it’s a critical issue that impacts us all.

The energy landscape is changing. We’re in the midst of a strong push to net-zero carbon emissions while increasing reliance on electricity through electric vehicles and other means.

As someone at the forefront of innovation several times throughout my career, I’m not afraid of change. However, the way this change is being implemented is the problem. The breakneck speed at which traditional power generation plants are being closed without adequate replacement has left our nation vulnerable. Renewables are a great addition to the nation’s fuel mix, but they are weather dependent. No sun or wind = no power, and as an industry, we don’t yet have battery capabilities that enable us to store renewable-generated electricity for later use. As a result, we’re essentially tearing down our old house before we’ve finished building the new one.

So, what can we do about this? Educate our legislators.

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) serves 832 distribution cooperatives and 63 generation and transmission cooperatives, and acts as the voice for the 42 million electric cooperative customers we serve. The organization works hard every day to ensure policymakers understand the needs of rural residents while helping cooperatives engage with elected officials in their home states. The NRECA America’s Electric Cooperative PAC also supports political candidates and parties on both sides of the aisle to ensure co-ops have a seat at the proverbial political table.

Additionally, every April, the NRECA hosts a legislative conference where co-ops nationwide come together to meet with federal legislators on critical issues. MEC has attended this conference for years; this year, electric reliability was a top agenda item. We met with the following legislators and/or their staff: U.S. Senate and House of Representatives Members Stabenow, Dingell, Walberg, Slotkin, Huizenga, and Bergman. We shared our concerns about electrifying the economy, disorderly retirement of traditional generation sources, permitting challenges, supply chain issues, and natural gas availability. We also discussed the upcoming Farm Bill and the need for continued financing for infrastructure upgrades, innovative energy programs, broadband projects, and the need to streamline permitting for infrastructure projects.

Like the NRECA, the Michigan Electric Cooperative Association (MECA) represents Michigan’s electric co-ops on regulatory and policy issues within Michigan and has been actively bringing awareness to grid reliability.

Finally, I’m no stranger to Washington D.C., having presented to Senate subcommittees, the U.S. Department Of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Utilities Service, the Federal Communications Commission, and numerous other national associations. In fact, one of my primary priorities is advocating for our rural customers and co-ops at all levels of government. I will continue to pursue opportunities for MEC to bring this issue to the forefront.

All this is to say that many voices are sharing their concerns about our ability to keep the lights on. You should do the same. The louder we speak, the sooner policymakers will listen. Visit to download a letter that you can mail to your representatives. We also provide information on how to find out who your elected officials are.

I also encourage you to visit for more information on grid issues, the potential for rolling blackouts, and what we can do to try to avoid them when the grid is taxed.

About The Author

Bob Hance

Bob Hance is the President/CEO of Midwest Energy & Communications.