Merriam-Webster defines advocacy as “the act or process of supporting a cause or proposal.” Nowhere does it say you must have a professional credential, money, or lofty title to be an advocate. Advocating requires one thing — taking action to support a cause or proposal. So, you are not an advocate if you care about an issue, but never do anything about it.
Advocating is action.
This coming week, the American Public Power Association will have more than 500 advocates in Washington, D.C., taking direct action to support community-owned public power utilities in the federal policymaking arena. These advocates are the general managers of public power utilities of all sizes and from all regions of the U.S. – small towns to large cities. They are also the local policymakers – mayors, city council members, elected and appointed utility board members – who govern public power utilities and care deeply about the success of their communities. They are the government relations professionals from the utilities who bring a wealth of knowledge about state legislative and regulatory activities that can help inform federal policymakers on their decision-making. They are experts – engineers, security professionals, and lawyers who are on the front lines at their public power utilities ensuring properly functioning infrastructure and compliance with federal and state regulations.
These advocates take three days out of their busy schedules to come to D.C. en masse to communicate their support for pending federal policy issues such as the need for comparable incentives for not-for-profit public power utilities to deploy renewable energy and to underscore the related need to improve tax-exempt financing to enhance or build new infrastructure. And to support federal climate change policy by Congress that is economy-wide, sets clear targets, and provides maximum flexibility to electric utilities so they can keep electricity affordable and reliable. These advocates will also communicate their support for federal/electric industry partnerships to help maintain secure electric grids. Finally, they will ensure national policymakers understand the need to support the federal Power Marketing Administrations and the Tennessee Valley Authority – agencies that deliver clean, renewable, reliable hydropower as well as multiple other benefits to the customers of not-for-profit public power and rural electric cooperative utilities.
The actions taken by these advocates make a difference – they help federal policymakers contextualize complicated electricity issues by relating their community impacts. As we gather for the APPA Legislative Rally starting on February 24, I look forward to joining my fellow advocates in this mission to support public power priorities in Washington, D.C.