ACRE and the Importance of Action
“If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.”
This Washington political saying could not be a more forceful argument for co-op members becoming actively involved in the political process in a smart, strategic way. At a time when energy issues are moving to the forefront of national discourse, it is all the more urgent and important to have a strong, national voice representing the interests of the electric cooperative industry. This is why Wisconsin’s electric co-ops participate in the Action Committee for Rural Electrification®, also known as ACRE®.
A Powerful Voice on Capitol Hill
ACRE is our national political action committee (PAC) whose mission is to ensure that the voice of rural electric cooperative consumers is heard in the U.S. Congress. ACRE advances the legislative goals of electric cooperatives across the country by making campaign contributions to candidates for Congress who support electric cooperative goals, who share electric cooperative values, and who want our electric cooperatives to be successful.
ACRE is one of the top PACs in the nation with more than 31,000 individuals contributing from 47 states. While the average donation is considered modest ($56), by “Super PAC” standards, the collective impact is considerable. ACRE is vital to how we develop relationships with key decision-makers and educate them on issues that are important to all of us.
With a new Congress recently sworn in and the vast and growing gap between Democrats and Republicans defining Washington today, now more than ever, Americans want leaders who care more about issues than partisanship. We are promoting common sense and a collaborative approach to problem-solving.
ACRE is bipartisan and supports candidates solely based on their support for electric cooperative issues. A candidate’s political affiliation is never taken into account. Before any support is given to a candidate, ACRE works closely with our state associations, like Wisconsin Electric Cooperative Association, to determine which candidates are aligned with electric co-op values.
Issues Impacting Rural Communities
In this so-called “do-nothing” Congress, ACRE-supported candidates helped to pass two pieces of landmark, bipartisan electric co-op-specific pension legislation. Their support helps co-ops continue providing tens of thousands of hardworking co-op employees with the means to assure financial security during retirement. Most importantly, working with our allies, we ensured that these laws enable the retirement plan to remain affordable for co-ops.
We’ve also had Members of Congress support other priority issues, including backing the RUS electric loan program, fighting to preserve co-op water heater demand response programs, and shining a light on the need to bring broadband to rural America, just to name a few. Those Members of Congress stood with us on key issues, and we stand with them when we use ACRE to support their election.
Why Get Involved: What’s at Stake?
The competition for time with Members of Congress is getting more intense as elections continue to become more and more expensive. We risk our relevance if we don’t speak with one voice. ACRE gives us a powerful, persuasive voice to counter political dysfunction in Washington, D.C.
You can join ACRE by making a contribution to this powerful grassroots force. To do so, speak with the manager of your local electric co-op for more information. Your contribution will enable ACRE to support candidates who understand that our energy must be safe, reliable and affordable. —With Anne Prince, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association