Author: Joe Arnold

The importance of rural voting

Kentucky Electric Cooperatives President & CEO Chris Perry teamed up with Kentucky Farm Bureau President Mark Haney on the following op-ed that appeared in newspapers and websites across the commonwealth:

In communities across the country, children are taught from a young age about the importance of getting out on Election Day and voting. The right to vote is the cornerstone of any democracy and an important tool for making our voices heard in the political process.

These days, with partisanship reaching record highs, it’s easy to want to tune out the political talk and focus on our families and life at home. But we must stay engaged and take the time to ensure we are informed. From expansion of broadband across rural Kentucky to the crafting of future Farm Bills to determining tax rates in local towns — those elected on Nov. 3 will make decisions that have everyday impacts on rural Kentuckians.

Yes, you heard that right: the people we elect on Nov. 3 will make decisions that impact our daily lives. Voting really is that important!

And to be clear, exercising the right to vote doesn’t begin at the ballot box. In the weeks leading up to an election, it’s our responsibility to be informed about the issues at hand and the candidates’ position on those issues.

As organizations that operate throughout the commonwealth, Kentucky Electric Cooperatives and Kentucky Farm Bureau understand the issues rural Kentuckians face and are committed to making life better for the individuals and communities we serve. Voting has always been and continues to be a critical part of the equation.

Each election cycle, Kentucky Farm Bureau hosts candidate forums on every level — from U.S. Senate to local races — to ensure our members know exactly where candidates stand on rural issues. KFB is a grassroots organization, and we know that informed voters making their voice heard via elections is of utmost importance.

Since 2016, Kentucky Electric Cooperatives has operated “Co-ops Vote,” a partnership with the Kentucky Secretary of State’s office that encourages rural voices to make sure their voices are heard in the commonwealth’s primary and general elections. We also regularly ask candidates their position on issues that impact our members and publish their responses in our flagship publication, Kentucky Living.

Whether you are involved with our organizations or not, you owe it to yourself, your family, and your neighbors to take some time to learn about your candidates and weigh in on what’s important to rural Kentucky.

With new protocols in place to minimize the spread of COVID-19, voting in 2020 is sure to look and feel a bit different than in years past. Instead of heading to your polling place on Election Day, you may be mailing in your ballot or opting to vote early. The good news is, with so many options, voting has never been easier or more accessible.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from this unpredictable and difficult year, it’s that we should never take anything for granted. That includes our shared responsibility to vote, even if your choice is different than your neighbor’s.

Please join us and your fellow Kentuckians in casting your ballot this election season — rural Kentucky is depending on you!

Crews from six Kentucky co-ops assisting in Georgia after Zeta

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (October 30, 2020) – For the third time in six weeks, dozens of Kentucky electric cooperative line technicians are headed south to assist in power restoration. Hurricane Zeta knocked out power to nearly 2 million homes and business across five states.

Nearly 50 employees from six electric cooperatives in Kentucky are deploying to three sister co-ops in northern Georgia that requested their help.

Carroll EMC (Nolin RECC and South Kentucky RECC)
• The co-op’s infrastructure sustained extensive damage including broken poles and downed lines when wind gusts exceeding 60 mph met saturated ground. “We haven’t had damage like this since Hurricane Opal in 1995,” said Chief Operating Officer Jerome Johnston. “In many areas, it is like a completely new construction job.”

Amicalola EMC (Farmers RECC, Warren RECC and Kenergy)
• Extremely high winds and heavy rain crashed through the co-op’s service area early Thursday, knocking out power to more than 38,000 Amicalola EMC members. Outages are being reported in all ten counties served by the co-op. A substantial number of trees are down in every county, with a high number falling across power lines, bringing the lines and power poles down with them.

GreyStone Power (West Kentucky RECC and Nolin RECC)
• About 33,000 consumer-members are without service. “We are grateful for the help and look forward to having their knowledge, experience and commitment to the cooperative difference helping us out,” the co-op posted on social media.

Coordinated by Kentucky Electric Cooperatives, mutual aid crews from Kentucky co-ops are deployed to specific sister cooperatives who have requested their help. On daily conference calls, safety teams from each state assess optimal deployments.

In September, 87 crews from twelve Kentucky electric co-ops helped restore power to a co-op in southwest Alabama after Hurricane Sally. Earlier this month, 73 Kentucky co-op employees helped restore power in Louisiana after Hurricane Delta.

The top priority of each local Kentucky co-op is service to its own consumer-members. Before committing resources to mutual aid requests, each co-op ensures it has ample crews available for all local needs, including routine maintenance and emergencies.

“This has been an especially difficult hurricane season for our fellow cooperatives in the southeastern United States,” said Chris Perry, President and CEO of Kentucky Electric Cooperatives. “We are praying for them and for the safety of everyone assisting. By responding to natural disasters in other states, Kentucky co-op crews gain invaluable experience to ultimately help them respond to outages here at home.”

In addition, United Utility Supply Cooperative is responding to power restoration needs for co-ops affected by Zeta across the region. The Kentucky-based co-op has implemented its storm emergency plan, providing round-the-clock support to meet the material needs of co-ops.

Because the national network of transmission and distribution infrastructure owned by electric cooperatives is built to federal standards, line crews from any co-op in America can arrive on the scene ready to provide emergency support, secure in their knowledge of the system’s engineering.

Kentucky electric co-ops deploy to Louisiana for Hurricane Delta recovery

Crews from at least ten Kentucky co-ops gearing up to restore power

In response to a request from an electric cooperative in Louisiana, at least 70 electric co-op employees from Kentucky are joining power restoration efforts after Hurricane Delta brought even more damage to the same area devastated by Hurricane Laura in August.

Delta made landfall late Friday night as a strong Category 2 hurricane and swept through southwest Louisiana. At the peak of the storm, more than 90,000 electric co-op consumer-members across Louisiana were without electricity due to fallen wires, damaged poles, and severe flooding.

“Hurricane Delta came ashore in the already storm-torn southwest Louisiana and moved northeastward through the state, causing damage to all our ALEC member electric cooperatives’ systems,” said Association of Louisiana Electric Cooperatives (ALEC) CEO Jeff Arnold. “The Association of Louisiana Electric Cooperatives (ALEC) has once again initialized our mutual-aid network to recruit help from line workers from other states to assist in the recovery.”

The storm caused substantial damage to the infrastructure at Beauregard Electric Cooperative, where Kentucky co-op mutual aid crews are now heading. All of the co-op’s 42,648 consumer-members lost power—an event seen for only the third time in its 80-year history, including Hurricane Rita in 2005, Hurricane Laura just six weeks ago, and now Hurricane Delta.

Some of the same Kentucky co-ops that deployed crews to Hurricane Sally last month are gearing up for more hurricane relief. In September, 87 crews from twelve Kentucky electric co-ops helped restore power to a co-op in southwest Alabama.

“Our members were so supportive through Hurricane Laura, and I have confidence that we will have that support through this restoration effort as well,” said Kay Fox, vice president of marketing and member services for Beauregard Electric Cooperative. “Our crews will join forces again with other states to restore power as quickly and safely as possible.”

The top priority of each local Kentucky co-op is service to its own consumer-members.  Before committing resources to mutual aid requests, each co-op ensures it has ample crews available for all local needs, including routine maintenance and emergencies.

The list of Kentucky electric cooperatives set to deploy lineworkers includes Cumberland Valley Electric, Fleming Mason Energy, Jackson Purchase Energy Cooperative, Kenergy, Nolin RECC, Owen Electric, Shelby Energy, South Kentucky RECC, Warren Rural Electric and West Kentucky RECC.

Through a careful coordination of mutual aid from co-ops across the Midwest and Southeast, co-op crews are assigned to specific co-ops in need of assistance. On daily conference calls, safety teams from each state assess optimal deployments.

“Even before Delta made landfall, co-op crew members in Kentucky were already communicating that they wanted to help,” said Chris Perry, President and CEO of Kentucky Electric Cooperatives. “By responding to natural disasters in other states, Kentucky co-op crews gain invaluable experience to help them respond to outages here at home. We are praying for the safety of co-op crews and the people they are helping.”

In addition, United Utility Supply Cooperative is responding to Hurricane Delta needs. The Kentucky-based co-op has implemented its storm emergency plan, providing round-the-clock support to meet the material needs of co-ops.

Because the national network of transmission and distribution infrastructure owned by electric cooperatives is built to federal standards, line crews from any co-op in America can arrive on the scene ready to provide emergency support, secure in their knowledge of the system’s engineering.

Co-ops credit McConnell, Barr for coronavirus relief help

As Kentucky families and communities cope with the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, the electric cooperatives which serve them are expressing gratitude to the commonwealth’s congressional delegation for its advocacy and support of legislation that has provided relief.

“In particular, I want to highlight the eagerness and diligence of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Congressman Andy Barr to connect with our rural communities to ensure that legislation in Washington addresses real needs back home,” says Chris Perry, president and CEO of Kentucky Electric Cooperatives.

Perry says the health and well-being of rural Kentuckians and the electric co-ops that serve them are inextricably linked, and the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic has the potential to be catastrophic. The sudden and extreme rise in Kentucky’s unemployment rate due to the pandemic lockdown of the state’s economy is not just a statistic to co-ops.

“These numbers represent the struggles of our neighbors, our co-op consumer-members,” Perry says. “As Kentucky and our nation cope with this crisis, it is more important than ever to know that our elected representatives have our back and we have their ear.”

Leader McConnell, Rep. Barr and their respective staffs have stayed in regular contact with Kentucky co-ops, listening to the needs and concerns “on the ground” back home in Kentucky.

“These open lines of communication have helped them not only craft meaningful relief legislation,” Perry says. “but also advocate for co-ops and local consumer-members as all of us worked to determine the most appropriate application of federal relief.”

For instance, Perry credits quick action by the lawmakers to ensure the Treasury Department and Small Business Administration clarified the eligibility of Kentucky’s rural electric cooperatives for specific funding so that co-ops could best understand their options as they weathered substantial financial losses over the last few months.

“Since Congress established the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), I have been working tirelessly to advocate for rural electric cooperatives eligibility for these critical forgivable loans,” said Congressman Barr. “Over the last several weeks, I have held calls with Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and other high-ranking officials at the Treasury Department to advocate for rural electrical cooperatives. I am pleased that the Treasury Department and Small Business Administration clarified that rural electric cooperatives are now eligible for PPP loans.”

“The PPP is helping to save tens of millions of jobs as a centerpiece of the CARES Act I introduced,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “Right here in Kentucky, more than 45,000 small businesses have received federal assistance to keep their lights on and their workers on payroll. I’m glad Kentucky’s electric cooperatives can tap into the PPP in their work to power our communities and maintain affordable prices through this crisis. As Senate Majority Leader, I’m constantly working with the Trump administration and my colleagues to deliver the aid Kentucky needs to beat this virus.”

Perry said that as future recovery efforts take shape, co-ops look forward to continuing to work with elected officials on proposals that ensure electric co-ops have the flexibility and financial relief they need to ensure the delivery of affordable, reliable electricity.

“From increasing federal assistance for utility payments to supporting high-quality broadband in rural America, the Commonwealth’s electric cooperatives stand ready to support bipartisan solutions for the communities we serve,” Perry said.


Youth Tour goes ‘virtual’

Coronavirus changes co-op plans

(March 27, 2020) – With the Frankfort Youth Tour of Kentucky’s electric cooperatives postponed by the COVID-19 pandemic, elected leaders are making sure that the 150 high school juniors selected for the leadership program are still receiving a virtual dose of civic engagement.
Video messages by Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams and Representative Samara Heavrin highlight the “Virtual Frankfort Youth Tour” released by Kentucky Electric Cooperatives. Other elected leaders are also invited to add their messages to the video.

“Now more than ever we need those of you who are eligible to register to vote, and we need poll workers” says Adams, whose message focused on rural voting. He credited his election in November to voters in rural counties saying: “My grandfather made me this wooden state of Kentucky after I won my race. Look how many counties are red, rural counties. Never forget every vote counts.”
Previously scheduled for March 17, the 2020 Frankfort Youth Tour was to also kick off this year’s Co-ops Vote initiative to encourage civic engagement by local consumer-members of Kentucky co-ops. Electric cooperatives serve 117 of Kentucky’s 120 counties.
“We are really sorry to miss the opportunity to take students to Frankfort. It’s not only an opportunity for our students to learn more about Kentucky’s government, but for those that go on to the Washington Youth Tour, it creates an even deeper connection between local and national leadership” says Sarah Fellows of Nolin RECC.
For nearly fifty years, Kentucky’s local electric cooperatives have sponsored youth tours of both Frankfort and Washington, D.C., selecting rising young leaders in their service territories to gain a personal understanding of American history, civic affairs, and their role as citizens and members of electric cooperatives.
“It saddens me that we had to cancel the Frankfort Tour, but it was the best decision,” says Vanessa Blagg of Jackson Purchase Energy. “Our students’ health and well-being are of the utmost important to us.”
“My mom told me the trip to Frankfort was cancelled,” says Gabe McFadyen, a Warren RECC student. “I’m bummed, but I understand.”
Heavrin, who was sponsored on the 2009 Washington Youth Tour by Warren RECC, says the experience opened her to career opportunities she didn’t know existed. After working on Capitol Hill and the Kentucky State Treasurer’s office, Heavrin was elected in November to represent Kentucky’s 18th House District, serving Grayson and Hardin Counties.
“I became the youngest woman ever to serve in the Kentucky General Assembly and I truly give that all up to my opportunity to be on the Washington Youth Tour,” Heavrin says. “I’m so thankful Kentucky Electric Cooperatives invested in me just like they are investing in you today. What an incredible opportunity you have to learn more about our government and a life as a public servant.”
In deciding to postpone the 2020 Frankfort Youth Tour, Kentucky Electric Cooperatives heeded the call of Governor Andy Beshear to avoid large social gatherings. Since then, Beshear has only intensified those public health directives.
“The safety and quality of life of our local co-op consumer-members are our priorities,” says Chris Perry, president and CEO of Kentucky Electric Cooperatives. “We hope to find an alternative date in the future to continue this important commitment to Kentucky’s future.”

Kentucky co-ops cheer House vote for RURAL Act

The United States House of Representatives on Tuesday passed the RURAL Act, protecting more than 900 electric cooperatives throughout the nation from the risk of losing their tax-exempt status when they accept government grants for disaster relief, broadband service and other programs that benefit co-op members.

The Senate is poised to pass the bill later this week, and President Trump is expected to sign it into law.

Kentucky Electric Cooperatives has been advocating for the RURAL Act with Kentucky’s Congressional delegation, with four co-sponsors from Kentucky,  Rep. Andy Barr, Rep. James Comer,  Rep. Brett Guthrie, and Rep. Hal Rogers. Kentucky Rep. John Yarmuth also voted in favor of the bill.

U.S. Rep. Andy Barr (Ky-6) meets with Kentucky electric cooperative leaders. Photo: Joe Arnold

In addition, Kentucky’s co-ops have been encouraged by the support of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky on the issue. McConnell listened to the concerns of co-op leaders at the Kentucky Electric Cooperatives Annual Meeting in November.

“We appreciate the members of Kentucky’s congressional delegation who listened to our concerns and are standing up for the local consumer-members of Kentucky co-ops,” said Chris Perry, president and CEO of Kentucky Electric Cooperatives.  The statewide association represents 26 co-ops in Kentucky.

U.S. Rep. James Comer (Ky-1) meets with Kenergy CEO Jeff Hohn. Photo: Joe Arnold

“The overwhelming support of the RURAL Act, despite what congressional observers considered its unlikely passage, also speaks to the strength of the electric cooperative program when local consumer-members speak with one voice,” Perry continued. “The passage of this legislation is an affirmation of cooperative principles. We are all in this together.”

The RURAL Act is the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s top legislative priority for the year because of the profound threat to the business model of not-for-profit co-ops. Tens of thousands of co-op leaders, employees and members across the country rallied to advocate passage of the bill.

U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers (Ky-5) meets with East Kentucky Power Cooperative President and CEO Tony Campbell. Photo: Joe Arnold

“This package preserves the fundamental nature of the electric cooperative business model and will save electric co-ops tens of millions of dollars each year,” said NRECA CEO Jim Matheson. “Moreover, it protects co-op members from unfair increases in their electric rates and provides certainty to co-ops that leverage federal and state grants for economic development, storm recovery and rural broadband deployment.”

Lawmakers passed the popular bipartisan legislation in the final hours of the 2019 session as part of a larger tax and spending bill that funds the government through September 2020.

Big Rivers President and CEO Bob Berry (left) listens to remarks by U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie at the U.S. Capitol. Photo: Joe Arnold

The bill’s passage fixes a problem created in 2017 when Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which redefined government grants to co-ops as income rather than capital. That change made it difficult for many co-ops to abide by the 15% limit on non-member income to keep their tax-exempt status. The RURAL Act once again exempts grants from being counted as income and is retroactive to the 2018 tax year.

U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth (Ky) meets with Kentucky electric cooperative leaders in 2019. Photo: Joe Arnold

Without the fix, some co-ops would have had to start paying taxes this spring after receiving grants in 2018 or 2019 to repair storm damage, bring high-speed internet to rural communities or invest in renewable energy and energy-efficiency programs. Many co-op leaders feared they would have to raise rates for members to pay the new taxes.

The legislation attracted more than 300 co-sponsors in the 435-member House and more than half of the senators. The effort was led in the House by Reps. Terri Sewell, D-Ala., and Adrian Smith, R-Neb., and in the Senate by Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Tina Smith, D-Minn.

NRECA lobbyist Paul Gutierrez credited the victory to a collaborative campaign strategy that included co-ops’ grassroots efforts to alert their senators and representatives to the issue.

“This was an amazing NRECA team and membership effort, including co-op members at the end of the line,” he said. “We had great legislative champions in the House and Senate, and they worked tirelessly to get this included in the final tax package.”

Co-ops honor McConnell as 2019 ‘Distinguished Rural Kentuckian’

Highest honor awarded by Kentucky Electric Cooperatives

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (November 18, 2019) – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was honored on Monday, November 18 as the “2019 Distinguished Rural Kentuckian” at the 73rd Annual Meeting of Kentucky Electric Cooperatives. The award is the highest honor given by the statewide association of Kentucky’s electric cooperatives which serve nearly 1.5 million Kentuckians in 117 of 120 Kentucky counties.

“Senator McConnell is a champion for rural Kentucky,” said Chris Perry, president and CEO of Kentucky Electric Cooperatives. “Time and time again, he has been there for co-ops when it matters most. And, what’s striking is how responsive he is to the issues of rural Kentucky and America.”

Perry said McConnell’s leadership securing access to sensible financing and USDA funding has helped Kentucky co-ops deliver safe, reliable and affordable electricity, and McConnell’s advocacy for sensible environmental regulations has protected the consumer-members of Kentucky co-ops.

“We know that Leader McConnell’s clout means good things for Kentucky and we appreciate his hard work and dedication to fight for rural priorities,” Perry continued. “As Majority Leader, he gets to set the agenda and because of that, rural Kentuckians have a lot to be grateful for. Our agenda is his agenda.”

“As a predominantly rural state, we’re made stronger by our heritage,” said U.S. Senate Majority Leader McConnell. “From the Big Rivers to East Kentucky Power, your 26 statewide electrical cooperatives are making a real difference in the lives of families and communities. You’re helping power Kentucky’s future, support good jobs, and drive our economic prosperity. I’m grateful for your advocacy and keeping me up to date on your priorities, and I’m honored to receive this award.”

First elected to the U.S. Senate in 1984, Senator McConnell is Kentucky’s longest serving senator and the longest serving Republican Senate Leader in U.S. history. In addition to serving on the Senate Agriculture Committee, Senate Rules and Administration, he also serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee – the committee which holds jurisdiction over discretionary spending.

Through the years, Senator McConnell has fought for many priorities important to rural Kentucky, including major tax reform, regulatory relief, infrastructure, rural broadband development and healthcare. Senator McConnell is well-known as a champion for rural Kentuckians – their jobs, families and futures. He has secured vital funding for our communities and been the voice for all Kentuckians in Washington.

Candidates for Kentucky governor answer electric co-op questions

On November 5, Kentucky voters will elect the commonwealth’s constitutional officers for the next four-year term.

Topping the ballot are the candidates for governor. Incumbent Republican Matt Bevin and his running mate state Sen. Ralph Alvarado face Democrat Attorney General Andy Beshear and his running mate Jacqueline Coleman.

We are grateful to both candidates for replying to our questions about key issues facing rural Kentucky, in particular the commonwealth’s energy future, economic development and workforce development.

In addition to advocating for issues that affect the ability of Kentucky’s electric cooperatives to deliver safe, reliable and affordable electricity, co-ops are also leading the drive for more voter participation in the rural areas they serve.

Kentucky’s off-year elections typically draw poor voter turnout, especially compared with presidential election years. Four years ago, Kentucky’s statewide voter turnout was only 30.6%, and the counties with the lowest turnout were in rural areas.

The nonpartisan Co-ops Vote campaign aims to both improve rural voting and make sure that rural voters are aware of important issues. Since the launch of Co-ops Vote in 2016, Kentucky Electric Cooperatives has championed the cause, encouraging consumer-members attending local co-op annual meetings to make sure their voices are heard at the ballot box.

“If rural Kentuckians want elected leaders to pay attention to their concerns, voting is the most effective method,” says Chris Perry, president of Kentucky Electric Cooperatives. “I encourage all Kentuckians to join me in making the commitment to vote.”

Eligible voters, no matter where they live or whether they are co-op members, can participate in Co-ops Vote and take advantage of its voter resources. Just visit and take the pledge to vote in this year’s elections. Once you’ve registered, you’ll have access to information on registering to vote, where to vote and background on all the candidates.

“The communities and rural areas served by co-ops are facing challenges that require attention and respect,” Perry says. “It’s easy to attack rural electric cooperatives. We are paying attention to see who gives co-ops and their members a fair shake in Frankfort.”

As the flagship publication of Kentucky’s electric cooperatives, Kentucky Living posed the same four questions to both Bevin and Beshear, allowing each a total of 400 combined words to answer all questions.

Co-op Candidate Q & A

What is your vision for the energy future of Kentucky?

Bevin: Our energy future must be intertwined with my vision that Kentucky will become the engineering and manufacturing hub of excellence in the United States. We are in the process of fulfilling that vision precisely because of Kentucky’s low energy prices. Kentucky is second in the entire nation in aerospace exports. Automotive and pharmaceuticals are also major export categories for our commonwealth. In fact, we broke our all-time record as a state with $31.76 billion in international exports in 2018. Maintaining this growth is dependent on affordable, safe, reliable and environmentally responsible energy production.

Beshear: Kentucky needs an all-of-the-above approach to energy. One of the biggest challenges working families face, especially in eastern Kentucky, is that their energy bills go up year after year, while good jobs are hard to find and wages remain flat. Kentucky families shouldn’t have to choose between putting food on the table and keeping the lights on. As attorney general, my office has opposed dozens of utility bill hikes and helped save Kentucky families nearly $1.6 billion. I will continue to advocate for consumers, affordable utility costs and smart energy policy as governor.

No Kentuckian currently pays sales tax on their residential electric use. Can Kentucky’s electric cooperatives count on your support to help them serve struggling families and keep residential electric sales exempt from a sales tax?

Beshear: Tax reform in Kentucky shouldn’t burden working families who are already struggling just to get by. My focus will be on closing sales tax loopholes for purchases of things like private jets and luxury yachts. Additionally, we have to stand up for consumers and hold utility companies accountable. Monthly energy bills should be reasonable and affordable, not the skyrocketing rates we have seen in many parts of Kentucky.

Bevin: I do not support taxing utilities that people need.

What is your plan to help rural Kentucky retain, grow and recruit business to bring people back to rural Kentucky?

Bevin: I would refer you to my record thus far. No governor in America has outhustled me since I took office. Since the beginning of our administration, we have announced 1,160 new projects. We just broke the $20 billion mark in investments and are now over 52,000 new jobs. Perhaps most importantly, we have more people working in Kentucky than ever before. Many of these are in rural communities in Kentucky. Stay tuned, we are just getting warmed up.

Beshear: We must create family-supporting jobs and support small businesses in every part of Kentucky, including rural areas. My plan to create good-paying jobs focuses on growing economic sectors that Kentucky is positioned to lead in, like agritech and advanced manufacturing. These jobs of the future will draw on our state’s agricultural and industrial strengths as well as new technological innovations. We also have to rethink how we use tax incentives for job creation. My administration will move away from giving handouts to out-of-state CEOs and bring more jobs that pay a living wage to our rural communities. We also need to protect two of the main pillars of rural economies: health care and public education. While Matt Bevin attacks our schools and rural hospitals, they will be a priority in a Beshear/Coleman administration.

Electric cooperatives employ more than 3,000 people across the Commonwealth. What is your plan to ensure that Kentucky has an educated and prepared workforce for the future?

Beshear: Kentucky has the talent and the people, but Governor Bevin has failed to give our workforce the tools they need to compete in a global economy. Instead of cutting community colleges, I will expand job training programs in partnership with organized labor and strengthen career readiness in schools. We should also be fully funding public education, including community colleges and technical schools. Businesses will follow the workers, and I’ll always prioritize making sure Kentuckians have the skills they need to earn a good living for their families.

Bevin: Again, I have to refer you to my record. Our per pupil education expenditures were the highest in Kentucky history in our most recent budget. Meanwhile, programs like our Work Ready Skills Initiative, our Registered Apprentice Program, our Work Ready Scholarship and our Work Matters Task Report (which was recognized by the U.S. Department of Labor) represent a multimillion-dollar investment in Kentucky’s workers. These programs, along with public/private partnerships that are training world-class graduates in advanced manufacturing, are in place to ensure that Kentuckians have the skills demanded by job creators for 2019 and well into the future.

Kentucky’s electric co-ops launch to oppose sales tax on power bills

Bevin and Beshear weigh in on controversial sales tax proposal

(October 1, 2019) – Kentucky Electric Cooperatives is speaking out against any potential sales tax on Kentuckians’ power bills. The October issue of Kentucky Living magazine reveals both a new grassroots website against such a tax and an exclusive Q&A with Governor Matt Bevin and his Democratic challenger Andy Beshear, which includes their respective positions on the sales tax issue. will serve as an educational landing place for local, state, and federal issues that could affect the more than 1.5 million co-op members across the Commonwealth. The platform also allows Kentuckians to communicate directly with legislators.

Under current law, residential electric bills are exempt from the state’s 6% sales tax. However, as the General Assembly continues to consider new sources of state revenue, potentially removing some exemptions from the sales tax, co-ops are cautioning legislators to protect the exemption on residential electric bills. Kentucky Electric Cooperatives is opposed to adding any sales tax to power bills and is using to encourage lawmakers to leave that exemption alone.

“Adding additional taxes to electric bills would have a devastating impact on rural Kentuckians as a sales tax could cost some consumer members hundreds of dollars per year,” stated Chris Perry, CEO and President of Kentucky Electric Cooperatives. “Not only would a tax impact household budgets, it would also stymie economic development in those areas.”

When recently asked by Kentucky Living if electric cooperatives could count on their support to keep residential electric sales exempt from a sales tax, both candidates for governor provided replies.

Governor Matt Bevin: “I do not support taxing utilities that people need.”

Attorney General Andy Beshear: “Tax reform in Kentucky shouldn’t burden working families who are already struggling just to get by. My focus will be on closing sales tax loopholes for purchases of things like private jets and luxury yachts. Additionally, we have to stand up for consumers and hold utility companies accountable. Monthly energy bills should be reasonable and affordable, not the skyrocketing rates we have seen in many parts of Kentucky.”

Kentucky co-op crews shift with Dorian to the Carolinas

(September 5) – More than 100 Kentucky electric cooperative lineworkers are now in South Carolina and North Carolina to help restore power after Hurricane Dorian. Originally assigned to sister co-ops in Georgia, the crews adjusted their deployment with the storm’s trajectory.

Though downgraded to a Category 2 hurricane, Dorian is still packing a powerful punch for the Carolinas with flooding from both the storm surge and heavy rain, high winds and tornadoes. On Thursday night, hurricane-force winds were reported in South Carolina with some damage more than 50 miles inland.

Late Thursday night, an estimated 240,000 homes in South Carolina and 46,000 homes in North Carolina were without power, according to public outage maps.

Crews from seven Kentucky cooperatives are assigned to Four County EMC, an electric cooperative in Burgaw, North Carolina.

Meanwhile, crews from five other Kentucky co-ops are assigned to sister co-ops in South Carolina: Black River EC in Sumter and Coastal EC in Waterboro.

The mutual aid response is coordinated by Kentucky Electric Cooperatives. The statewide association of Kentucky’s 26 electric co-ops participates in daily conference calls with similar co-op organizations in southeastern states to assess potential needs and pair recipient co-ops with available crews and equipment from Kentucky. In addition, Kentucky co-ops have also released dozens of construction and right-of-way contract crews to respond to Hurricane Dorian.

The top priority of each local Kentucky co-op is service to its own consumer-members. Before committing resources to mutual aid requests, each co-op ensures it has ample crews available for all local needs, including routine maintenance and emergencies.

“The Kentucky co-op crews who are on the ground in the Carolinas are making Kentucky proud,” said Chris Perry, president and CEO of Kentucky Electric Cooperatives. “One of our cooperative principles is ‘Cooperation among Cooperatives,’ and this mutual aid effort takes that cooperation to a whole other level. These men face very challenging conditions. We are praying for their safety and the well-being of everyone in Dorian’s path.”

“Linemen are wired to help people,” said Clarence Greene, Safety and Loss Prevention Director at Kentucky Electric Cooperatives. “Mutual aid deployments also provide invaluable training opportunities so these crews will be better prepared to respond to storm damage when it happens here at home.”

Louisville-based United Utility Supply Cooperative is responding to Dorian by implementing its storm emergency plan and providing round-the-clock support to meet the material needs of affected co-ops.

Because the national network of transmission and distribution infrastructure owned by electric cooperatives has been built to federal standards, line crews from any co-op in America can arrive on the scene ready to provide emergency support, secure in their knowledge of the system’s engineering.