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Commentary Legislative wins for Oklahoma co-ops E


Chris Meyers General Manager, Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives


ach legislative ses- sion, our state leg- islators introduce more than 2,000


bills. A few hundred actu- ally survive the legislative process and are signed into law by the governor. Of those, a very small number are controversial and there-


fore get widely publicized. This year we heard much about horse meat processing, workers’ comp reform, and income tax rates. These were among the handful of measures that were pas- sionately debated in the media.


No bill succeeds without strong advocacy from


someone or some interested organization. Your electric cooperative statewide organization works for or defends against those that impact the delivery of affordable, reliable and safe electricity to you, the member. This past session we successfully advo- cated for a number of important bills that didn’t receive a lot of media attention. For example, electric cooperatives, along with the investor-owned utilities, worked together with the Department of Public Safety to modify electric util- ity vehicle hauling permits. Electric utility provid- ers can now carry poles up to 55 feet in length on their trucks during emergencies without the need


of a special permit. This modifi cation is a common sense change that speeds storm restoration efforts. The Scrap Metal Dealers Act was amended. The theft of electric utility copper, communications equipment, and other critical infrastructure is a seri- ous problem. The penalties imposed on scrap deal- ers who knowingly violate the provisions of the Act are now much more serious and in some cases con- sidered a felony. Additional oversight of scrap deal- ers is provided for in the new law.


Another bill that has not been signed into law at the time of this editorial writing but is expected to be, is a local utility’s right of fi rst refusal to own transmission lines built to operate at less than 300 kilovolt. This is important because lower voltage transmission lines are more a part of the local utili- ties delivery infrastructure and less about interstate bulk power transfer. Local owners and operators are very motivated to maintain and restore power to their members or customers and they should have the option of owning those assets.


Our issues didn’t make the local newspaper head- lines—they rarely do. However, they are important to you and your local electric co-op. You can be assured that your local cooperative, through its statewide association, continues to keep an eye out for your interests as they relate to affordable, reli- able and safe electricity.


Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives


Chris Meyers, General Manager Joe Harris, President


Jimmy Taylor, Vice-President Kendall Beck, Secretary Gary McCune, 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 Leatherwood, Multimedia Specialist hleatherwood@ok-living.coop


Kaylan Watkins, Intern intern@oaec.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 Oklahoma’s responders show heroism T


Joe Harris President, Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives


his issue of Oklahoma Living covers a great ar- ticle about volun-


teer fi rst responders and all they do for our communi- ties. I got to witness the pro- fessionalism of these men and women as they reacted to the tornado outbreak in


Central Oklahoma on May 19th and May 20th. I was in the Norman area when the tornado went through Moore. I watched vehicle after vehicle go- ing into Moore with sirens going off and lights flashing. There were first responders from just about any town and city in Oklahoma, no matter how small or large, and from every walk of life. They dropped everything they were doing to an- swer the call for help, without regard for how in- convenient it might have been. This is a great picture of who Oklahomans are and how they come to each other’s aid, whether they know you or not. It is a tradition and lifestyle that I am proud to see


4 WWW.OK-LIVING.COOP


in action and hopefully be a part of. In addition to fi rst responders, there were also many of Oklahoma’s electric cooperative crews rushing to aid our sister cooperatives that sustained damage to electrical infrastructure after the storms. While we want to see rescue operations doing all they can, it is also important to get electricity back on to help with the recovery efforts after a tornado. I know that each of these men and women who go into these areas to rebuild the system are impacted both visually and emotionally by what they see. As a result, they are motivated to continue working— not wanting to quit at night—thinking they can just get one more family’s lights back on. It is also important to get water wells, pumps, and sewage treatment facilities back in operation in order to recover.


The Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives coordinates a Mutual Aid Plan that allows us to respond during these times in a unifi ed and organized manner for the benefi t of our mem- bers. My hat is off to these men and women and their gallant efforts.


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 Cooperatives, 2325 E. I-44 Service Road,


P.O. Box 54309, Oklahoma City, OK 73154-1309. Circulation this issue: 316,704


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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