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COM M E NTARY Don’t change the mission of Power Marketing Administrations O


Chris Meyers General Manager, Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives


klahoma’s electric coop- eratives enjoy a great relationship with the Southwest- ern Power Administra- tion (SWPA). SWPA is one of four Power Marketing Adminis- trations (PMAs) serv- ing different regions of the country. PMAs manage hydro power production facilities


and market power generated from federal fl ood control dams.


In the late 1930s the U.S. Army Corp of Engi- neers was assigned the task of building fl ood con- trol dams on America’s rivers. Wisely, hydro power generation units were included in the construction of many of those dams. Our relationship with the PMAs started when Congress passed the Flood Control Act of 1944, at a time when rural electric cooperatives were rapidly building their electric sys- tems and in need of power sources in those rural areas. Under the Act, rural electric cooperatives and municipal power systems were given preference for the hydro power. Those receiving the power would be responsible for the cost of ongoing operation and the repayment of principle and interest for the hydro power plants.


In March of this year, Steven Chu, secretary of T


Glenn Propps President,


Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives


he August edition of Oklahoma Liv- ing magazine has traditionally focused on the topic of education. On pages 8, 10 and 14 of this edition, you’ll fi nd stories that directly relate to educational opportu- nities in Oklahoma. Education—particu- larly from a rural school in a rural district—is vi- tally important to our


children and grandchildren. Rural schools tend to be the center-points of communities, the very life- blood of small towns and villages. All too often, when a rural school consolidates or closes, the pulse of that community is changed—sometimes to the point of fading away to non-existence. I grew up attending a rural school, and there is no doubt in my mind that the education I received there better prepared me for leading a more success- ful and well-rounded life.


In order for Oklahoma to attract technology- driven industries that provide high-quality jobs, educating and preparing our young people must be a priority—especially in rural school districts. How do our rural schools stack up against other rural schools nationwide? Recently, I read a comprehensive report produced


4 OKLAHOMA LIVING


the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), announced a proposal that could affect this historic PMA mis- sion and lead to higher electric bills for consum- ers. He declared that PMA strategic and capital improvement plans, resource dispatch procedures, and rates would have to change to provide incen- tives for boosting energy effi ciency and demand- response programs, enhancing integration of wind farms and solar systems into the grid (to better ship renewable energy to distant consumers), testing in- novative cyber security technologies, and preparing for electric vehicle deployment. He referred to the PMAs as “test beds” for projects important to the administration.


While these might be worthy goals, PMAs are the wrong tool for implementing them. For starters, DOE’s vision would single out rural cooperatives and municipal consumers to pay for benefi ts that fl ow to others. It is, in essence, a back-door tax on existing PMA customers.


DOE’s approach disregards the intent of Con- gress. Such changes should only be made by Con- gress, which has authored, expanded, and refi ned PMA governing statutes.


PMAs and their customers have already success- fully integrated energy effi ciency, demand response, and wind and solar power resources that make eco- nomic sense, and they will keep doing so. Electric co-ops are working to stop DOE’s efforts to change the mission of PMAs. We want to ensure that affordable, reliable power continues to fl ow from PMAs. OL


Oklahoma’s rural schools: heartbeats of communities


by the Rural School and Community Trust orga- nization, entitled Why Rural Matters 2011-2012: The Condition of Rural Education in the 50 States. The report can be found at www.ruraledu.org


What are some of the biggest challenges for Okla- homa’s rural schools found in this report? ✓The percent of rural student poverty in Okla- homa is 57.3 percent, ranking it 5th highest in the nation; only New Mexico, Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas have higher percentages. ✓Oklahoma’s rural instructional expenditures per pupil is $4,483 compared to a national average of $5,657 per pupil; only Idaho, Arizona and Utah spend less on per pupil instructional expenditures; ✓Rural salary expenditures per instructional full- time equivalent (FTE) average $44,363 for Oklaho- ma’s rural schools, compared to a national average of $56,159 per instructional FTE; only North Da- kota, South Dakota and Missouri have lower salary expenditures per instructional FTE. ✓Average rural district reading and math scores at the 4th and 8th grade level on the National As- sessment of Educational Progress are lower than the national average in three of four indicators. ✓And, the change in rural students as a percent- age of all students in Oklahoma is growing at a rate of 7.7 percent, meaning more students—and thus more costs—are migrating to rural schools. It’s time for all of us in rural areas to focus on


fi nding solutions that will make our rural schools better. OL


Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives


Chris Meyers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . General Manager Glenn Propps . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .President Joe Harris . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Vice-President Jimmy Taylor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Secretary-Treasurer


Staff


Sid Sperry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Director of PR & Communications sksperry@oaec.coop


Anna Politano . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Managing Editor editor@ok-living.coop


Larry Skoch . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Advertising Manager lskoch@ok-living.coop


Christy Johnson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Offi ce Manager cjohnson@oaec.coop


Kirbi Bailey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Accountant/Offi ce Manager Asst. kbailey@oaec.coop Hayley Imel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Multimedia Specialist himel@ok-living.coop


Editorial, Advertising and General Offi ces


P.O. Box 54309, Oklahoma City, OK 73154-1309 Phone (405) 478-1455 Oklahoma Living online: www.ok-living.coop


Subscriptions


$3.12 per year for rural electric cooperative members. $6.00 per year for non-members.


Cooperative Members: Report change of address to your local rural electric cooperative. Non-Cooperative Members: Send address changes to Oklahoma Living, P.O. Box 54309, Oklahoma City, OK 73154-1309. Oklahoma Living (ISSN 1064-8968), USPS 407-040, is published monthly for consumer-members of Oklahoma’s rural electric cooperatives by the Oklahoma Association of Electric Coopera- tives, 2325 E. I-44 Service Road, P.O. Box 54309, Oklahoma City, OK 73154-1309.


Circulation this issue: 316,381 Periodical postage paid at Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.


The Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives is a statewide service organization for the following electric cooperatives: Alfalfa, Arkansas Valley, Caddo, Canadian Valley, Central Rural, Choctaw, Cimarron, Cookson Hills, Cotton, East Central Oklahoma, Harmon, Indian, KAMO Power, Kay, Kiamichi, Kiwash, Lake Region, Northeast Oklahoma, Northfork, Northwestern, Oklahoma, Ozarks, People’s, Red River Valley, Rural, Southeastern, Southwest Rural, Tri-County, Verdigris Valley, and Western Farmers Electric Cooperative.


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