Rural Missouri - January 2019 - 4
| C O O P E R AT I O N
photos by Heather Berry
Clockwise from top, Caleb Jones welcomes the group; legislators see the generators that provide power for 580,000 households and Joe Wilkinson explains how electric cooperatives work.
Freshman legislators visit the Thomas Hill Energy Center on statewide tour
earning the ropes of any new position can be
overwhelming, especially for newly elected
members of the 100th Missouri Legislature.
As part of a multiple-day bus tour around
the Show-Me State, 58 freshman legislators made
a stop at the Thomas Hill Energy Center located in
north-central Missouri near Moberly. The facility
provides power to more than 580,000 homes.
"The freshman tour is a unique experience," says
Caleb Jones, CEO of the Association of Missouri
Electric Cooperatives located in Jefferson City.
"You look at the House. It's split by party affiliation.
There's a stark line. What's fun about the tour is
they don't ask your party on the bus. Really it's one
of the few times legislators get to put politics aside
and see the real issues. Because at the end of the
day the problems our state faces aren't Democrat or
During this leg of their statewide tour, incoming
legislators learned how electricity is generated in an
affordable and reliable way for members of electric
cooperatives. Associated Electric based in Springfield is responsible for providing the electricity used
by co-op members in Missouri and parts of Iowa
Associated's Joe Wilkinson gave the legislators
"Devoted to the rural way of life"
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RURAL MISSOURI | JANUARY 2019
an overview of Missouri's three-tiered system that
provides generation, transmission and distribution
services to the member-owners. The arrangement is
one factor in assuring rates Missouri electric co-op
members pay are among the lowest in the nation.
Associated staff also highlighted the diverse portfolio of generation resources the cooperative uses to
provide power. These include two coal plants, six
natural gas plants, six wind farms and hydropower.
The legislators learned the importance of this mix of
fuels and what Associated has done to improve air
quality through a $1.1 billion investment.
The visit gave electric cooperative leaders an
opportunity to meet the new legislators and let them
know the issues that face rural people.
"It always amazes me the diversity of Missouri's
resources and not just in terms of people, but the
land itself," says Rep.-elect Louis Riggs, who represents the 5th District in northeast Missouri. "Yes,
we use natural resources, but we use them in a
positive way. Hearing about how responsibly the
co-ops steward the land and environment is also an
eye opener. I am greatly encouraged by the talk they
gave this morning in terms of educating legislators
who don't understand rural issues."
The tour also offered a chance to explain how the
cooperative business model works and why electric
cooperatives are different than other utilities that
operate in Missouri.
Webster Electric Cooperative Manager Tom Houston, who is chair of the AMEC Legislative Committee, says it's important that lawmakers understand
"The question I get the most is what is the difference between a cooperative and an investor-owned
utility," he says. "It is important that we get in front
of them and let them know about the cooperative
Electric cooperatives are regulated not by state
agencies, but by their own locally elected board of
directors who are members of the cooperative themselves and use its electricity. This differs from forprofit utilities whose directors are investors who
expect to receive a return on that investment and
may not even live on the utility's lines.
Electric cooperatives operate on a nonprofit
basis, and return any margins made - not to investors but to the member-owners.
By the time the tour moved on to its next stop,
those taking part had a better understanding of
how electricity is generated and why electric cooperatives are vital to those who live in rural areas.
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Rural Missouri - January 2019
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - January 2019
Rural Missouri - January 2019 - Intro
Rural Missouri - January 2019 - Cover1
Rural Missouri - January 2019 - Cover2
Rural Missouri - January 2019 - Contents
Rural Missouri - January 2019 - 4
Rural Missouri - January 2019 - 5
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Rural Missouri - January 2019 - Cover3
Rural Missouri - January 2019 - Cover4