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NRECA programs benefit 865 co-ops, 37 million consumers nationwide.

National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), located in Arlington, Va., represents the national interests of the nation's more than 900 cooperative electric utilities and the consumers they serve. Organized in 1942, NRECA provides national leadership and member assistance through legislative representation before Congress and the executive branch. It also provides: representation in legal and regulatory proceedings affecting electric service and the environment; communication services; education and consulting for cooperative directors, managers and employees; energy, environmental and information research and technology; training and conferences; and health insurance, retirement benefits and financial services. Programs are funded through dues and fees.

NRECA's member cooperatives serve 37 million people in 47 states and 80 percent of the nation's counties. Most of the 865 distribution systems are private, consumer-owned cooperatives, although some are public power districts. NRECA membership includes other organizations formed by these local utilities: generation and transmission cooperatives (65); statewide and regional trade and service associations; supply and manufacturing cooperatives; data processing cooperatives; and employee credit unions. Associate membership is open to equipment manufacturers and distributors, wholesalers, consultants and other entities that do business with electric cooperatives.

Two major publications inform and educate members, decisionmakers and the interested public: RE Magazine, published monthly, and Electric Co-op Today, a weekly newspaper that reports on activities and issues important to electric cooperatives and NRECA.

NRECA's annual meeting is one of the largest national gatherings of cooperative and rural leaders and consumers, often attracting more than 12,000 directors, managers, employees and cooperative member-owners. Delegates consider and act on policy resolutions that guide NRECA's issue and organizational agenda, hear addresses by key public figures and attend panel sessions on major issues affecting cooperatives, electric utilities and their consumer-owners. Concurrently, the TechAdvantage Conference and Expo commands more than 50,000 square feet of exhibit space, showcasing more than 250 leading-edge suppliers of power production, information technology, power delivery, and customer management products and services.

NRECA and its member cooperatives administer a program of technical advice and assistance in developing countries around the world. NRECA International Ltd. has helped more than 50 million people in the world's poorest countries achieve the economic and social benefits of reliable, affordable power by adapting the successful model of locally owned electric cooperatives. Programs are designed with close attention to local demand conditions and use the most appropriate power generation methods, including distributed generation and renewable energy systems. The NRECA International Foundation, funded by voluntary contributions, coordinates the Sister Cooperatives Program and directs the collection and shipping of donated equipment and materials to support overseas projects.

As new demographic and economic patterns emerge, electric cooperatives' operations evolve and their needs become more diverse. NRECA's legislative, legal and regulatory agenda has become more diverse, embracing hundreds of issues affecting electric utility generation, transmission and distribution; energy policy and the environment; finance and tax matters; telecommunications; jobs creation; federal disaster assistance; the cooperative business model and governance; and consumer protections.

Efforts in the last two decades to forge a national energy policy through legislation in Congress and sweeping regulatory initiatives at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) have the potential to alter radically the relationship between electric utilities and their consumers. NRECA's legislative and regulatory advocacy efforts focus on controlling costs for consumers, protecting them against market power abuse and anti-competitive behavior, and on preserving member co-ops' governance structure by keeping operational and policy decisions in the co-op boardroom.

One of the toughest challenges electric cooperatives lace as employers is the ever-increasing cost of healthcare coverage for their employees and retirees. The association's legislative efforts in this area focus on employer flexibility, access to quality programs and providers and equity for rural Americans.

Education, training and leadership programs have evolved to focus attention on the increasing level of public and policymaker scrutiny of American business resulting from the latest wave of illegal activity in the corporate world. Courses cover director fiduciary responsibility and conduct; cooperative business principles and ethics; effective working relationships between directors, CEOs, attorneys and auditors; development of principle-centered policies; and strategic planning.

The Touchstone Energy[R] Cooperatives brand supports the communication and marketing efforts of electric cooperatives. Award-winning materials developed for member systems help unify advertising, marketing and community relations activities and provide a consistent image of electric cooperatives nationwide.

NRECA also assists its member systems through community and economic development support, including a wide array of resources for financing, planning, and partnering through public and private organizations across the country.

Contact Information: website:; Telephone: 703-907-5500; Address: 4301 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA 22203. President: David J. Cowan, Gettysburg, Pa.; Chief Executive Officer: Glenn English.
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Publication:Rural Cooperatives
Date:May 1, 2004
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