High school students: Apply to Big Country Electric Cooperative’s Youth Tour contest, and you could be headed to Austin and Washington, D.C., next summer for an all-expenses-paid tour of our nation’s capital.
- Contestants must be in 10th, 11th or 12th grade at a school in Big Country EC’s service area, which includes Borden, Fisher, Garza, Haskell, Jones, Kent, Mitchell, Nolan, Scurry, Shackelford, Stonewall and Throckmorton counties.
- Students’ parents or guardians do not have to be members of Big Country EC in order to compete in and win the Youth Tour contest.
- Previous Youth Tour contest winners and immediate family members of BCEC directors and employees are not eligible to participate.
- Applications may be obtained online at bigcountry.coop by clicking on Service Beyond Electricity and then Youth Tour. Submit applications by email to Sarah McLen at smclen@ bigcountry.coop. Applications are due by 5 p.m. Thursday, January 19, 2023.
- Once your application is received, you will receive an email with instructions to post your entry video.
- Videos must be uploaded by 8 p.m. Thursday, January 26, 2023. Please include your name with the title (e.g., “Title of My Video by John Smith”).
In September, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association CEO Jim Matheson shared the following thoughts with RE Magazine about quickly approaching federal and, in some cases, state mandates for 100% renewable energy and production of electric vehicles.
After reading Matheson’s article below, research the impact 100% renewable energy and electric vehicle mandates could have on rural Americans. Then make a five-minute video intended for your representative in Congress that explains the need for reliable, affordable electricity and the potential effects of current federal energy legislation and asks your representative to advocate for responsible technology and energy policy.
Closing Thoughts: Keeping the Lights on During the Energy Transition
By Jim Matheson, NRECA CEO
Ensuring the lights stay on across America is an important national priority and one that is taken for granted. In fact, dozens of states in the most powerful nation in the world may struggle to keep the lights on in the coming years. That’s unacceptable, and it doesn’t have to be this way.
Absent a shift in policy and coordination between federal and state governments, this is the energy reality America faces for years to come. And as the nation leans on electricity to power more of our economy, failing to live up to the fundamental premise of affordable, reliable electricity would devastate American families and businesses.
The ability to keep the lights on is a cornerstone of our economy. No one recognizes that more than America’s electric cooperatives. The co-op focus on local communities lends us clarity on these issues that few other organizations have. That’s why NRECA continues leaning into our role as truth tellers amid the ongoing conversation about the energy transition.
Other organizations have recently sounded a similar alarm about reliable electricity in the months and years ahead. Electric co-ops have been voicing grid reliability concerns for years while simultaneously rising to the challenge to keep affordable, reliable electricity a constant in rural America.
Some are quick to blame these reliability threats on changing or more extreme weather patterns. That’s certainly part of the story, but there’s a deeper problem that must be acknowledged. Spurred by policy and market factors, the ongoing energy transition has prioritized the disorderly and premature closure of baseload power plants without considering the collective impact on the power grid and the availability of feasible technology to fully replace them.
That’s proving to be a misstep with potentially severe consequences.
Driven by a focus on keeping the lights on, America’s electric cooperatives have demonstrated what a responsible energy transition can look like. Electric co-ops lowered their carbon emissions by 23% between 2005 and 2020. Co-ops also continue investing in energy innovation technologies to help meet tomorrow’s electricity needs with speed and flexibility.
Policymakers play a critical role in our energy future. As they establish energy policies, legislators and regulators must consider threats to reliability before setting arbitrary dates and deadlines. This must include allowing adequate time, technology development and the construction of desperately needed transmission lines.
That’s why NRECA and our member co-ops consistently push policymakers to recalibrate their focus on a commonsense energy transition that recognizes all of the factors above and doesn’t jeopardize reliability or punish families already struggling to make ends meet.
When you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging. Today’s energy decisions will determine whether there are sufficient resources for the lights to come on tomorrow. Failure is not an acceptable option for the consumers and communities we serve.
- Be unique, be creative, be yourself and have fun!
- Winners will be selected on a competitive basis, with equal weight given to the applicants’ knowledge of the subject and the quality of the video presentation.
- Multiple applicants cannot submit the same video. The video must be your original creation.
An independent panel of judges will select three winners to represent BCEC on the Government-in-Action Youth Tour trip to Austin and Washington, D.C., June 11–20, 2023. Each contestant will be notified of results by email or phone by 5 p.m. Thursday, February 9, 2023.
Big Country EC also plans to donate $500 to the school whose students submit the most application videos.