Rural Missouri - June 2018 - 5
H A RT TO H E A RT
Public power: Don't sell it short
by Barry Hart | firstname.lastname@example.org
f you are like most Missourians, there's a good
chance you will spend some time at one of Missouri's big lakes this summer. You might fish,
swim, water ski or just sit on the shore and take in
the incredible sunsets.
For all the recreational aspects these lakes have to
offer, there's another benefit that most Missourians
never consider when they are casting for lunker bass.
Hydropower from water flowing through these dams
is one reason Missouri's electric cooperative members
enjoy rates that are among the lowest in the nation.
And revenue from the sale of this power made these
lakes feasible in the first place.
Some lakes, such as Lake of the Ozarks owned by
Ameren, were privately built. But a number are publicly owned, built by the federal government for the benefit of the people. These include Table Rock, Stockton,
Truman, Clarence Canon and Bull Shoals in Missouri.
Electric cooperatives and municipal utilities receive
power from these "public power" projects and others
located in other states.
In fact, one out of every three Missourians receives
power from the Southwestern Power Administration,
the agency that markets electricity generated by these
dams. As one of the four Power Marketing Administrations in the United States, Southwestern markets
hydroelectric power in Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana,
Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas from 24 U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers multipurpose dams.
By law, Southwestern's power is marketed and delivered primarily to public bodies such as electric cooperatives and municipal utilities through a principle
known as "preference." Southwestern has more than
100 such preference customers and these entities serve
more than 8 million end-use customers.
Hydroelectric power is one of the
cheapest methods of generating electricity
because the fuel used - water - is essentially free. It would be nice if we could run
these generators all the time. But that's
not possible because there is a limited
amount of water behind the dams.
So hydropower is held in reserve, and
used sparingly for periods of high demand
instead of other more costly sources of
power. When we really benefit from this
power source is when the rain falls in just
the right place, the lakes fill up and the
Southwestern Power Administration has
supplemental power. This is offered to all
of its customers at a really good price.
In 2017, 6 percent of the electricity
supplied to electric cooperatives by Associated Electric Cooperative came from
Power from these public projects is
vital to providing affordable electricity
to the members of more than 600 electric cooperatives and 100 million people across the
United States. Yet not everyone believes this. It seems
like every time a new administration comes along in
Washington, D.C., they get the misguided idea of selling these important assets to the highest bidder to
reduce the budget.
The latest effort seeks to sell transmission lines
owned by the Power Marketing Administrations.
That's akin to selling the house in order to buy new
furniture. Selling these transmission assets to for-profit companies will inevitably increase costs for co-op
I've seen these proposals come up many times during my electric co-op career. We've fought hard to protect these assets and to ensure they remain in place for
the benefit of those who need them the most.
Raising electricity prices on rural Americans to send
more money to Washington has been a bad idea each
and every time it has been proposed and today is no
different. As you enjoy the summer at Missouri's lakes,
give some thought to the benefits provided by these
Hart is executive vice president of the Association
of Missouri Electric Cooperatives.
Summoning determination, grit and fortitude
by Anne C. Hazlett | email@example.com
little more than 80 years ago, the U.S. government launched a national effort focused
on the electriﬁcation of rural America. It
helped drive greater economic productivity
and contributed to new economic opportunities.
Today, there's a similar effort underway, focused
on bringing internet access to millions living in
rural communities throughout the United States.
The "digital divide" between rural America and
the rest of the country means that in 2018, for
American households that lack broadband, 80 percent are in rural America and just over a third of
American Indians living on tribal lands don't have
access to broadband.
A full 98 percent of their urban neighbors, by
comparison, enjoy internet access.
Those doing without are locked out of a range
of opportunities technology offers. Businesses can't
easily expand, social services can't be delivered efﬁciently and individuals can't get full access to health
care, education and training. In short, millions of
Americans are disconnected from the future.
I recently visited a small town in the Midwest,
and community leaders there told me about some
of the challenges they face: a shortage of business
investment, a lack of advanced educational opportunity for students and ﬁrst responders having to
make do with outdated technology.
These challenges and others can be traced back
to the fact that this community, and much of the had left the area for jobs could move back and care
county in which it is located, is still saddled with for aging parents. "People would stop me on the
dial-up internet service. Expanding access to broad- street and tell me how we had changed their lives,"
says Ken. "It helped me understand how broadband
band would be a powerful remedy.
We know that for companies and consumers with is so important to rural America."
The Trump Administration is encouraging investbroadband, the beneﬁts are plentiful. In 2015, rural
broadband providers directly and indirectly added ment in rural broadband through a variety of loan
and grant programs, totaling more
$24.1 billion to the U.S. economy,
than $1.4 billion this year. In addition
according to a Hudson Institute study.
to funding, we are working to support
The study also found that the rural
partnerships - with local telecomm
broadband industry supported almost
providers, municipal systems, utili70,000 direct jobs along with the ripple
ties and others - that will help bring
effects of those jobs.
broadband to underserved rural comThe new administrator of USDA's
Rural Utilities Service, Ken Johnson,
Broadband, like rural electriﬁcawants to do something about that.
tion, can open up new opportunities
Ken understands the transformafor millions of Americans. And while
tive power of broadband. He came to
investing in broadband brings risks
his new role from Tipton, where he was
- just as rural electriﬁcation did -
the CEO of Co-Mo Electric Cooperative
the potential rewards outweigh the
and its broadband subsidiary. His coAnne Hazlett
op was the ﬁrst rural electric cooperaGoing forward, we need to summon
tive in America to deliver both broadband and electric power to rural consumers, and the same level of determination, grit and fortitude
the ﬁrst to build a ﬁber gigabyte network to deliver shown by our forefathers, because expanded access
to broadband will bring greater vitality and produchigh-speed internet service to members.
He's talked about how broadband "transformed" tivity to rural America - empowering communities
his community - enabling kids to do their home- and helping them realize their full potential.
work at home and college students to take classes
Hazlett is assistant to the secretary for rural develfrom home.
It also meant people could telework - those who opment at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
JUNE 2018 | RURALMISSOURI.COOP