Electric Co-ops Applaud Bipartisan Infrastructure Package, Stress Continued Needs of Rural Communities

ARLINGTON, Va. – The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) today praised senators for passing a bipartisan infrastructure deal that helps electric cooperatives address several critical issues, while noting that additional assistance is needed to support rural communities.

“This bipartisan proposal is a meaningful first step and carries significant benefits for rural families and businesses, particularly those who lack access to high speed broadband,” NRECA CEO Jim Matheson said. “We commend the senators from both sides of the aisle who worked together on this compromise, and we applaud their commitment to the bipartisan pursuit of solutions.

“As policymakers plan for a future that depends on electricity as the primary energy source for much of the economy, more work will be needed to build on this infrastructure down payment. Electric co-ops will continue pushing for the financial flexibility to refinance existing government loans at today’s low interest rates and eligibility for direct pay tax credits to boost electric co-op investments in renewables and other innovative energy technologies. These two co-op priorities would provide much-needed tools for co-ops to leverage as they navigate the ongoing energy transition.”

The legislation addresses several electric co-op priorities, including:

  • Clean Energy: Support for clean energy technologies, including carbon capture utilization and storage, nuclear energy and hydropower.
  • Broadband: Substantial funding to boost broadband deployment, including $42.5 billion for a state-based grant program.
  • Grid Modernization: Funding for grid modernization, including $3 billion for a Smart Grid Investment Matching Grant Program.
  • Physical and Cybersecurity: Provisions to increase physical and cybersecurity through public-private partnerships and other programs.
  • Grid Resiliency: Programs to promote grid resiliency, including$5 billion for resiliency grants to supplement existing grid hardening efforts, reduce the risk of power lines causing a wildfire and reduce the likelihood and consequences of resilience events.
  • Electric Vehicles: Language to advance EV adoption, including $7 billion for EV charging infrastructure.

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association is the national trade association representing nearly 900 local electric cooperatives. From growing suburbs to remote farming communities, electric co-ops serve as engines of economic development for 42 million Americans across 56 percent of the nation’s landscape. As local businesses built by the consumers they serve, electric cooperatives have meaningful ties to rural America and invest $12 billion annually in their communities.