NORTH BALTIMORE – On March 9, Hancock-Wood Electric Cooperative members and their elected officials gathered for Hancock-Wood’s Action Committee for Rural Electrification (ACRE) Legislative Meeting. U.S. Rep. Bob Latta of Ohio’s 5th District and State Senator Randy Gardner of Ohio Senate District 2 discussed regulatory issues affecting electric co-ops and their ability to deliver affordable energy. Also in attendance were Jon Cross, who is running to state represent the 83rd Ohio House district, Wood County Auditor Matthew Oestreich, and Wood County Commissioner Doris Herringshaw.
Hancock-Wood President and CEO George Walton introduced Rep. Latta, praising him for his support of electric cooperatives in rural Ohio.
“I can truly say that Congressman Latta is a congressman for the people,” Walton said.
Latta, whose district is home to 60,000 manufacturing jobs and the state’s largest farming area, spoke about the importance of having reliable electricity and broadband internet service in rural Ohio.
“Getting electricity to the rural areas is important. We need power in the rural areas because that’s where the industries are and that’s where the farms are,” he said. When it comes to broadband internet, “everything is switching over, and parts of my district don’t have connectivity. Many small businesses don’t have access to the world wide web yet. We are working on how to get that out to people.”
Gardner spoke highly of Hancock-Wood’s member services and safety records.
“I remember being so impressed by your safety record in serving the public, and those things matter,” he said. “As elected officials, we tend to support entities who provide quality to the people we represent like Hancock-Wood does.”
Marc Armstrong, director of government affairs for the statewide trade association Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives, spoke about how ACRE directly benefits co-ops.
“We want folks in Columbus and in Washington who understand and support electric cooperatives,” he said.
ACRE is the federal political action committee of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA). Founded in 1966 by the approximately 1,000 member-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperatives of NRECA, ACRE supports candidates for the U.S. House and Senate who will speak for and protect the interests of electric cooperatives and their consumer-owners.
“It is so important for us, as an electric cooperative which are member-owned, to keep pressure on agencies in Washington to protect co-op rights,” Walton said.