CREA Provides Member Co-ops Legislative Assistance and Much More

By Kent Singer

Over the last couple of months, several Colorado politicians, former politicians and businessmen announced themselves as gubernatorial candidates for 2018. (Gov. John Hickenlooper
(D) is term limited.) They include two current members of Congress, a former state treasurer, several current or former state legislators, a district attorney and the nephew of a former candidate for president. Waiting in the wings are even more state legislators and businessmen who are rumored to be considering a run.

Which leads me to this question: Didn’t we just have an election last fall? I remember staying up late on election night to see who would be our next president. I also remember the political ads that dominated the television and radio airwaves for months prior to the election.

So please excuse me if I’m less than excited about the whole process starting all over again some 18 months before the 2018 general election. Frankly, I think we need a longer break. Maybe we should have a rule that no campaigns can start more than one year before a general election; we’ll call it the Singer Rule.

Don’t get me wrong. I actually like the political process for the most part, and I believe it is a fundamental component of our democracy. As a trade association that supports candidates for the state legislature, we’re involved in politics every day. But even political junkies such as myself and Geoff Hier, our director of government relations, need some time off from the constant solicitations for campaign contributions and the never-ending attacks on the opposite party.

The fact is that while representing the interests of Colorado’s electric co-ops in the political arena is an important function of the Colorado Rural Electric Association, CREA provides other services that are just as important.

SAFETY: CREA supports the efforts of its electric co-op members to provide a safe workplace for their employees and to keep the public away from power lines. The men and women who keep the lights on in rural Colorado do inherently dangerous work. They work on high-voltage power facilities that are unforgiving and must be constantly vigilant to avoid contact with those energized facilities. Their safety and well-being is dependent on following the appropriate safety practices.

We recently hired a new director of safety and loss control to lead our team of safety professionals. Dale Kishbaugh comes to Colorado from Arizona where he held a similar position. Dale is committed to helping our members stay up to speed on the most effective safety techniques and is in the process of visiting every electric co-op in the state as he assesses the co-ops’ safety programs and how CREA can assist them.

COMMUNICATIONS: Mona Neeley continues to head up our outstanding communications department, which includes our flagship publication, Colorado Country Life. Our statewide magazine is delivered to more than 220,000 co-op member-owners each month and has the largest circulation of any subscription, consumer magazine published in Colorado. It’s the primary communication tool for most of our member co-ops that rely on the magazine to keep their co-op members informed on what is happening at the co-op.

In addition to publishing Colorado Country Life monthly, Mona and her team also produce a wide variety of materials, such as co-op annual meeting reports, brochures and other communications pieces for our members. The department also maintains our assorted social media channels including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to help tell the co-op story.

EDUCATION: Each year, Liz Fiddes, our director of education and member services, organizes and delivers myriad education courses for the directors and staff of our member co-ops. Liz works tirelessly to deliver the most relevant training courses on a wide variety of topics. This enables the directors and staff at your co-op to gain valuable insight into industry issues without ever leaving Colorado, which is a huge cost savings.

In addition to the education courses that we sponsor, we also organize many peer groups that meet throughout the year, such as the accountants, human resource personnel, attorneys, managers, mechanics and member services staff. We also hold our annual Energy Innovations Summit, an all-day energy conference that features speakers from all over the country. This fall, we’ll host a “Pot & Power” conference to look at all of the issues that impact electric co-ops as the result of the legalization of marijuana in Colorado.

So, even though the political process is always on our radar, we’re also busy providing all the other support services that our members, which includes your co-op, have come to expect from us at CREA.