Co-op Voices

The voices of America’s Electric Cooperatives are amplified by our leaders.

Meet a few of these leaders, and see what they have to say about the power of advocacy.

Jim Matheson


Every co-op is one natural disaster away from suffering significant damage to its poles and wires. In the next 18 months, it will definitely happen to at least one co-op. But here’s the difference – your co-op system can rebuild and restore your system after a storm event; our tax designation can’t…I don’t even have to say it, but this is wrong. We have to change it. This threatens the tax-exempt status of every co-op. And every single member of the U.S. Congress should be with us on this.”

Debi Wilson

General Manager, Lane Electric Cooperative, Eugene, OR

In February, Lane Electric’s system suffered tremendous damage due to a historic snowstorm, and the system cleanup still continues. This storm was expensive and recently was declared a federal disaster. The cost to Lane Electric was approximately $5.6 million. FEMA grant money to Lane Electric would be a significant help to keep our rates down and offset storm damage costs, but the challenge is what will be the cost to our tax-exempt status if we accept the money as revenue?”

Tim Johnson

CEO of Otsego Electric Cooperative, Cooperstown, NY

We see it as an economic development issue, as an existential issue. Explaining to our members that we’re going to become taxable because of the tax law is going to be a tough conversation.”

Scott Reimer

General Manager of Federated Rural Electric, Jackson, MN

A recent winter storm came through and left us with roughly 600 poles on the ground. The 85/15 rule tax rule changed the way we do business in the form of receiving grants and assistance from FEMA. If we have to make a choice, I’m going to do what’s best for the member. So, it’s very important that the RURAL Act gets passed.”