Youth Tour Alumni should register online

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Special to The Journal

All former Rural Electric Youth Tour participants are asked to join the grass roots effort of advocating continued support from Congress for rural electric cooperatives.

If you attended the Youth Tour in Montgomery or Washington, D.C., you are asked to register online at the Alabama Rural Electric Association's Web site and click on the icon for Youth Tour Alumni. It doesn't matter if you attended the Youth Tour in 1975 or 2007, your help is needed. The information you provide will not be shared with anyone. AREA will use this information only to contact registered members when issues important to the electric cooperative program arise.

The major issue facing rural electric cooperatives today pertains to funding available through the USDA's Rural Utilities Service (RUS).

Electric co-ops generate less than 5 percent of the nation's electric power, yet maintain nearly half of the nation's electric distribution lines. These co-ops serve 12 percent of American consumers and cover 75 percent of the land mass in our country.

Installing, maintaining and replacing electric infrastructure is a difficult and expensive job for electric co-ops, but is made possible by a 70-year partnership with RUS through interest-bearing loans. RUS loans are increasingly important today to finance growing electric generation needs and technologies to minimize environmental impacts and maximize efficiency.

A proposal has been made in Congress to limit access to vital RUS loans. This proposal would greatly reduce the scope of the RUS loan program at a time when new investments in electric infrastructure are needed to sustain economic growth and development in rural communities.

Covington Electric Cooperative strongly encourages former Youth Tour participants to exhibit their leadership skills by supporting rural electric co-ops through advocacy on a grass roots level. Congress needs to hear from rural citizens who appreciate rural electrification and are willing to speak up with urgent support.