Month: July 2024

‘Electric U’ informs co-op caucus

At a critical time for energy policy in Kentucky and the nation, members of the newly formed Kentucky Rural Electric Cooperative Caucus participated this summer in the inaugural Electric University (Electric-U), a deep dive into how electric power is made and transmitted to homes and businesses across Kentucky. Outfitted with goggles, hard hats, and AV headsets, ten legislators witnessed the electric generation process first-hand during a tour of East Kentucky Power Cooperative’s Spurlock Station, a 1,346 MW coal power plant, along the banks of the Ohio River in Maysville. During the tour and a seminar in the facility’s technical center, energy industry experts and co-op staff answered questions posed by caucus members. “The primary focus of Electric-U is empowering lawmakers to understand the day-to-day realities of power generation and transmission,” said Chase Crigler, Government Affairs Director for Kentucky Electric Cooperatives. “The electric co-op caucus continues to demonstrate a commitment to advocating for the interests of local co-op consumer-members across the commonwealth.” Electric cooperatives provide power to more than 1.8 million Kentucky residents and businesses in 117 counties. Caucus members who participated in the first Electric University:
  • Senators:
    • Senator Amanda Mays Bledsoe (Coop Caucus Co-chair)
    • Senator David Givens (Senate President Pro Tempore)
    • Senator Gex Williams
  • Representatives:
    • Rep. Wade Williams (Coop caucus Co-chair)
    • Rep. Suzanne Miles (House Majority Caucus Chair)
    • Rep. Jim Gooch (House Natural Resources Chair)
    • Rep. Mike Clines
    • Rep. Dan Fister
    • Rep. Sarge Pollock
    • Rep. Bill Wesley
“We always appreciate the insights and transparency of Kentucky’s electric cooperatives, “said caucus co-chair Rep. Wade Williams (R-Earlington). “This experience to see electric generation close up helps all of us legislate on these matters more effectively.” Since its inception late last year, 96 members of the Kentucky General Assembly have joined the electric cooperative caucus, making it the largest caucus in the legislature. “The intense interest in the co-op caucus underscores how important reliable and affordable energy is to Kentucky,” said caucus co-chair Sen. Amanda Mays Bledsoe (R-Lexington). “In addition to looking out for our constituents, co-ops power some of our largest industries.” With input from Big Rivers Electric Corporation, East Kentucky Power Cooperative and the Tennessee Valley Authority, cooperatives plan to make Electric University an annual event, in addition to regular updates and briefings for caucus members throughout the year and during session. “We were pleased to host the first ever Electric University, and we appreciate the cooperative spirit of these informed legislators and our fellow power providers in Kentucky,” said East Kentucky Power Cooperative President and CEO Tony Campbell. “It is imperative that our elected leaders have access to factual information, especially as government regulators and policymakers are faced with crucial decisions that affect reliability and energy costs.”
Maysville, Kentucky — The fundamentals of electric power generation are explained to members of the Kentucky Rural Electric Cooperative Caucus during a tour of Spurlock Station. Photo: Tim Webb

Co-ops sponsor Kentucky high school students on Washington Youth Tour

When the new school year starts next month, dozens of Kentucky high school seniors will bring with them a better understanding of the United States government, the nation’s history and each other after participating in the 2024 Kentucky Electric Cooperatives Washington Youth Tour this summer.

Sponsored by their local electric cooperatives, 56 students from across Kentucky made up the youth tour delegation that in June joined about 1,800 other students in Washington, D.C. representing electric co-ops across the country.

“The tour allowed me to connect with fellow students from across Kentucky in counties I had never heard of and build lifelong friendships,” said Lewis County High School senior McKenzie Cunningham, a Fleming-Mason Energy attendee. “This experience has inspired me to be an active and informed citizen, and I am grateful for the opportunity.”

At the U.S. Capitol, the students learned about the legislative process and asked questions of key staff members from Kentucky’s congressional delegation.

“When you stand there, there is a wash of feelings,” recalled Anna Sumrall, an Elizabethtown High School Senior sponsored by Nolin RECC. “Part of you feels small standing inside such fantastic buildings. But more than that, I felt empowered. This is where it happens. As a student with a deep interest for civics and government, no experience compares to that of being in DC. No lecture or documentary can chalk up to hearing our leaders speak about their jobs — and waiting for the day when you’re in their shoes.”

On the steps of the U.S. Senate, the students named Sen. Mitch McConnell as the first honorary Kentucky Youth Tour delegate, recognizing his decades of service and support of electric cooperatives. Mason Lovell, Kentucky’s Youth Leadership Council delegate, presented the senator with a Kentucky Youth Tour pin.

“Despite you being one of the busiest U.S. Senators and party leader for so long, you’ve always taken the time to speak with our group here in the Kentucky delegation of the Washington Youth Tour,” said Lovell, a senior at McCallie School who was sponsored by Pennyrile Electric. “That’s meant a lot to us. You’ve also been an advocate for rural electric cooperatives, which effects lives like mine. We really want to say thank you.”

“Actually, I ought to be thanking you,” McConnell replied. “This is a great group I enjoy coming to Washington every year.”

The delegation visited national memorials, museums and historic sites, including Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, George Washington’s Mount Vernon and Arlington National Cemetery, where students presented a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

“Most students on the trip, including me, had never been to Washington, D.C.,” said Luke Humphries, a University Heights Academy student sponsored by Pennyrile Electric. “Being able to take in all the history and national culture with other students from Kentucky was amazing. A particularly special moment was when our group went to the 9/11 memorial at the Pentagon; I could feel the reverence and respect for the victims throughout the entire Kentucky group. That was a powerful moment, and I will definitely never forget it.”

Kentucky Electric Cooperatives has coordinated the tour since 1972, providing rising high school seniors the unique opportunity to witness our government in action.

“By exploring our nation’s capital firsthand, students gain not only knowledge of history, but also a sense of their own potential to lead and innovate in the world around them,” said Mallory Wafzig, manager of cooperative outreach and youth tour director.

“Each moment was not just about sightseeing but also about making lasting friendships and bonds with like-minded individuals from diverse backgrounds,” said Natalie Sandlin of Jackson County High School, sponsored by Jackson Energy. “This tour not only broadened my perspective but also gave me a sense of responsibility to contribute positively to my community and beyond.”

“This trip was truly the experience of a lifetime,” added Daviess County High School senior Abby Riley, who was sponsored by Kenergy. “Getting to see all the memorials, historic monuments, and our nation’s capital with my own eyes was absolutely astonishing. And our group fit together like pieces of a puzzle, and everyone was friends with each other.”

“I feel more connected to the history of our country and its place in the world,” said Quentin Ellis, a Randall K. Cooper High School senior sponsored by Owen County Electric. “It’s important for trips and opportunities like this to exist, if only to help the future generations to gain a better understanding of the world.”

Washington, D.C. — Kentucky’s Youth Leadership Council Delegate Mason Lovell names U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) the first ever honorary Washington Youth Tour delegate. Photo: Tim Webb