With the Arizona primary election behind us and the general election now in full swing, the role of ACRE (Action Committee for Rural Electrification) and AzACRE will be more critical than ever in ensuring  elected officials know about electric cooperatives.

“ACRE and Arizona ACRE are critical in making sure our voices are heard, both during the election, and after, when the winning candidates take office,” said Phil Bashaw, director of government relations and grass-roots advocacy for Grand Canyon State Electric Cooperative Association (GCSECA/www.gcseca.coop).

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“We don’t care if they’re Democrat or Republican, independent, or any other affiliation. We will support the candidates and office-holders who pay attention to our issues.” — Phil Bashaw.

ACRE (national) and AzACRE (state) are the electric cooperatives’ Political Action Committees (PACs), and their purpose is to support candidates who support cooperative issues, regardless of political affiliation, Bashaw said.

“We don’t care if they’re Democrat or Republican, independent, or any other affiliation; we will support the candidates and office-holders who pay attention to our issues,” Bashaw said.

Enrollment in both PACs by Arizona G&T Cooperatives’ eligible employees has steadily increased for three years, with a resulting increase in awareness of the G&T and its issues in the halls of the Arizona state legislature, the Arizona Corporation Commission, and Congress, Bashaw said.

“Thank you” cards have gone out to all AzGT employees who are currently enrolled in ACRE, AzACRE, or both, and invitations have gone out to all other employees who are eligible to join.

“Obviously, the outcome of the presidential election is important, and I’m not even talking about how the two candidates might treat our issues differently,” Bashaw said.

“The next president will most likely appoint at least one and possibly as many as three U.S. Supreme Court justices, and all you have to do is look at how the current  court has impacted energy policy  in their ruling on the mercury rules and issuing a stay on the Clean Power Plan,” Bashaw said. “Regardless of how you feel about the issue,  these decisions have shaped the course of environmental regulation and energy policy in the state. Their stay of the Clean Power Plan was a win for cooperatives as it gives us, and every cooperative across the country, additional time at a minimum and could help us avoid costly carbon regulations. Keep in mind that this was a 5-4 decision by the court and one seat is already vacant and will likely be filled by the next president.  This election will certainly tip the scales on this issue,” Bashaw said.

At the state level, there are five candidates for three open seats on the Arizona Corporation Commission, and each one of them has to be made aware of the cooperatives and their issues.

“Three open seats at the ACC is a majority for that body. The ACC has a huge impact on co-op rate cases and future energy policy for us and the entire state of Arizona,” Bashaw pointed out.

In Congressional District 1 (CD1) the outcome of the race between Republican Paul Babeu and Democrat Tom O’Halleran will also have a major impact on the cooperatives.

“With the exception of Anza, every Arizona cooperative has service territory in CD1, and we have to ensure that the representative from that district knows us,” Bashaw said.

Bashaw said there’s another reason the PACs are so important: representation of rural areas is dwindling. Voting districts are continuing to concentrate in urban areas as a result of demographic shifts and redistricting.

“We’ve seen a troubling trend, with voters in rural America showing up in smaller percentages each year than our urban counterparts. When combined with fewer ‘rural’ representatives, we are getting quieter when we need to be speaking the loudest. ACRE and AzACRE allow us to combine our resources sending a stronger message to those running for office and more support to those who will help us deliver our message,” Bashaw said.

Watch for the ACRE breakfasts coming in October and open to all ACRE-eligible employees.

Contributions to the NRECA Action Committee for Rural Electrification® (ACRE®) and/or AzACRE are not tax deductible. Contributions to ACRE are voluntary and will be used for political purposes. You have the right to refuse to contribute without reprisal. Any contribution guidelines presented are merely suggestions. You are free to contribute more or less than the suggested amounts, or not at all. NRECA will not favor or disadvantage anyone by reason of the amount contributed or a decision not to contribute.

For more information on ACRE/AzACRE, please see J.D. Wallace (jdwallace@azgt.coop)or Geoff Oldfather (goldfather@azgt.coop), or visit the ACRE website at http://www.nreca.coop/political-action/acre/ .

Also, for more information on voter registration or voting, visit www.vote.coop