At the cooperative, kicking off summer starts with our annual legislative trip to Washington, D.C., to meet with our elected officials. It is a great honor to represent our cooperative, our employees, and all the members who support our efforts through the ACRE Co-op Owners for Political Action® programs. It has long been said, and often repeated, that the cooperatives started in politics and will die in politics. That statement remains true today. Although the issues continue to change, the need to meet face to face with our elected officials is as important as ever. This year, I was fortunate to meet with Ohio U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown and to be the discussion leader with Ohio Rep. Bob Latta.
Our talks this year centered on some important issues like rural broadband, employee pension plans, protecting our public power administrations, and supporting the farm bill. These issues greatly impact rural America, including those of us right here in Northwest Ohio and Northeast Indiana. It is obvious how important the farm bill is and it should receive overwhelming, bipartisan support. It is vital for us to tell our elected officials how important these issues are back home because they impact real people. Broadband is a hot topic nationally. Ensuring rural America is not forgotten in the discussion is important for the future of rural families. It is difficult to retain our young people in rural areas. Having good jobs with competitive pay and benefits is the only way to keep our young people in rural areas.
As an employer, we are proud to provide a competitive wage and benefits program that will attract the next generation of cooperative utility workers. Keeping the cost of these benefits affordable is critical; expressing this concern in Washington ensures our employees are heard.
Summer also kicks off the construction season. Our crews and contractor crews will be working hard all summer to improve your electric system. We plan to replace 30 miles of old line and to do complete maintenance on three substations and all lines coming out of those substations. On top of all this, our contract tree crews will be busy maintaining the rights-of-way to reduce tree-caused outages. It will be a very busy summer for the PPEC employees. If you see them out and about, please give them a shout of thanks as they work hard to improve your service.
Speaking of service … each year, our employees devote time to a service project. This year, employees volunteered at the Auglaize Village Museum in Defiance County (see page 20 for more details). We had an outstanding turnout from our employee volunteers. This is just another sign of the employees living up to the co-op principle of Concern for Community.
Please have a happy and safe summer.