FCC’s co-op connection

Lyle Ishida, the FCC’s Consumer Affairs and Outreach Division chief, right, meets with co-op staff at Nolin RECC. Photo: Sarah Fellows

After what he calls an “eye-opening” meeting with Kentucky’s electric cooperatives, a Federal Communications Commission official says the discussion will lead to an ongoing partnership with co-ops to help rural Kentuckians.

Lyle Ishida, FCC’s Consumer Affairs and Outreach Division chief, met with Kentucky co-op staff in December at Nolin RECC’s Elizabethtown headquarters. His visit was part of the FCC’s Appalachian Region Consumer Outreach Rural Tour in Kentucky, West Virginia and Tennessee.

Ishida briefed the co-ops on the FCC’s efforts to battle fraudulent robocalls. While Ishida focused on scams related to callers posing as Internal Revenue Service employees, every co-op at the meeting reported that scammers using similar methods have posed as co-ops in schemes threatening to cut off service unless the consumer-members send them immediate payment.

Co-ops caution that those receiving such a call should hang up and call their local co-op at the number on their bill.

Ishida also heard concerns about the need for broadband service for rural residents, which he says is a priority for FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.

Nolin RECC President and CEO Mickey Miller and his incoming successor Greg Lee updated Ishida on the innovative technology used by Kentucky co-ops, including advanced metering systems approved by the FCC that allow co-ops to more efficiently and effectively serve consumer-members.