Staying Connected with Our Legislators // CEO Column January 2024

One of the most important things we can do is let our voices be heard by those elected to represent us. LREC values a positive relationship with our local legislators. We were able to connect with Minnesota’s Senator Jordan Rasmusson, Senator Rob Kupec, Representative Tom Murphy, and Representative Jeff Backer over the past year when they all were able to attend one of our board meetings. We appreciate our legislators being available to us throughout the years. We must continue to build and strengthen our relationships with them, especially during this time of significant energy transition.

I met with Senator Jordan Rasmusson last month to discuss his experience being a part of a delegation from Minnesota that traveled to Germany this past summer. Organized by the University of Minnesota, this bipartisan and bicameral delegation included Minnesota House Majority Leader Jamie Long, the chairs of the House Energy and Commerce Committees, Minnesota Public Utilities Commissioner Joe Sullivan, Department of Commerce Commissioner Grace Arnold, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Commissioner Katrina Kessler, and Minnesota Department of Transportation Commissioner Nancy Daubenberger. Senator Rasmusson serves on the State’s Commerce Committee and Capital Investment Committee. A delegation from Minnesota has traveled to Germany before, and the major purpose of the trip is to observe Germany’s energy transition and the lessons being learned from it.

Senator Rasmusson highlighted Germany’s current rapid energy transition to carbon free energy. The war in Ukraine has shut off Germany’s supply of inexpensive natural gas it had been importing from Russia, forcing Germany to bring some coal back into its energy generation portfolio. Germany has also aggressively phased out its nuclear power generation and had its last nuclear power plants closed in April of 2023. Germany phased out nuclear so quickly that it had to restart coal plants. Senator Rasmusson’s primary takeaway from his trip was Germany’s lack of electricity generation diversity, together with its reliance on imported natural gas, leading to high electricity rates and intermittent reliability. Rasmusson’s experience shed light on Germany’s difficulty managing new energy sources before being confident and certain that everything necessary to transmit and distribute the new energy sources is in place. Senator Rasmusson spoke to the challenges faced by industrial customers in Germany that are unable to be competitive with others around the world right now because of such high energy costs.

In Minnesota, Senator Rasmusson hopes the regulatory processes can be reimagined to allow utilities to be nimbler so they can be equipped to handle future transmission demands resulting from our energy transition. These processes currently are very slow and prevent utilities from gaining approvals timely enough to ensure all the pieces can be in place to accomplish the goals set by the 2023 Minnesota carbon free standard law.

I am so thankful for Senator Rasmusson’s time last month visiting about his experience in Germany because so much of it resonates with what is happening here in Minnesota. I want LREC to be the cooperative you deserve by staying connected with all our stakeholders, including our members, elected officials, (regardless of party), and any others who value what we are about—which is making you feel good about what your cooperative is doing for you. I appreciate your engagement as a member. Customers in Germany are highly engaged as they pay approximately three times more than we do in the U.S. for electricity. LREC wants and needs high member engagement now so we can work to prevent our nation from experiencing the extremely high power costs customers are currently facing in Germany.