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Pioneer officials take concerns to Washington D.C.

By Fred Guarino
The Lowndes Signal

The regulation of fly ash could impact power bills, according to Steve Harmon, executive vice president and general manager of Pioneer Electric Cooperative, who was among nearly 3,000 leaders representing electric cooperatives from around the nation to meet with members of Congress and their legislative staffs in Washington, D.C., May 2-4.

The event was the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s annual legislative conference, according to Angela Green, Pioneer Electric’s communications specialist.

“The cost of energy is one of many things impacting the wallets of our members,” said Harmon.” Coming to Washington D.C. is something we do every year and it’s important that our law makers hear the concerns and issues affecting our members face to face.”

Harmon said he met with all seven of Alabama’s Congressmen including Rep. Terri Sewell and Sens. Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions to discuss some of the concerns of members in Pioneer’s nine county service area.

“We asked them to take action on several important issues that will have an impact on electric bills,” said Harmon.

Harmon said one issue of concern is that the Environmental Protection Agency wants to regulate fly ash or coal ash from coal-fired generation plants. He said they want to define it has a hazardous material.

“If EPA is allowed to do that, it is going to increase the cost of power,” said Harmon. He said that will be because of the reporting and the resources required.

“We don’t feel like it is a health hazard,” said Harmon.

Another issue, he said, is the cooperative wants the government to continue funding the Rural Utility Service loan program.

According to Harmon cooperatives provide power to 75 percent of the land mass in the United States.

“Decisions being made in the nation’s capital will impact our electric bills in the future,” said Harmon. “In our service area, everyday issues affect our members ability to pay their bills. We need for our members to know that we are taking their concerns to Washington, D.C. to make sure their voices are heard loud and clear.”

Pioneer is a member owned electric cooperative that serves the rural parts of several counties in South Central Alabama.

For more information on legislative issues facing electric cooperatives and their member-owners, visit www.pioneerelectric.com.