Co-op Board of Directors Advocates for Members’ Best Interests at Minnesota State Legislature

May 20, 2024

Legislative affairs are a crucial part of the cooperative business model. In Minnesota, Stearns Electric works closely with local elected state officials and the Minnesota Rural Electric Association (MREA) to ensure state policies support the work of electric cooperatives and its benefit to our member-consumers. On a national level, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) assists us with that important work.

In March, Stearns Electric participated in the MREA Annual Meeting and Day at the Capitol. Five members of your Board and I visited with local legislators to advocate for issues impacting your electric cooperative. A few areas of emphasis included:

Stearns Electric supports proposed legislation which clarifies a 1939 statute exempting certain cooperative property in rural areas from being taxed. Over the last several years, the Minnesota Department of Revenue (MN DOR) began reinterpreting the statute and stopped recognizing the full extent of the exemption. The MN DOR is now in support of clarifying language proposed in the bills.

The landmark 2040 carbon-free bill set Minnesota on an aggressive path toward eliminating carbon emissions. It is imperative that we do not risk reliability and increased costs by imposing additional mandates. Stearns Electric supports proposed legislation which would provide the electric sector with a faster and more cost-effective permitting process needed to meet the demands of the clean energy transition.

Stearns Electric opposes legislation that threatens or undermines local democratic control.

While Stearns Electric’s foremost responsibility is to safely deliver affordable and reliable electricity to our member-consumers, our vision extends beyond that to empower and support our members and communities. A few ways we try and accomplish this are through economic development initiatives, community outreach efforts and advocacy for the best interests of our membership. Visits with lawmakers at the state Capitol are just one of the many ways we pursue living out our vision.

The legislative session closed May 20, after this CEO Column went to print. I will provide you with an update on any 2024 Legislative Session impacts to Stearns Electric in a future issue of Power Connection.

As always, it is a pleasure to serve you. Feel free to contact me with any questions regarding these legislative issues.


Matt O’Shea
Chief Executive Officer