Electric Co-ops Praise Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal, Urge Continued Focus on Rural America

ARLINGTON, Va. – National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) CEO Jim Matheson today applauded House passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill. The bill was approved by the Senate in August and now heads to President Biden to be signed into law.

“This bipartisan bill provides a significant down payment toward meeting critical needs of electric cooperatives and the communities we serve, including funding for priorities such as broadband deployment and electric vehicle charging,” Matheson said. “This bill recognizes the need to expand these two technologies in rural communities. As policymakers plan for a future that depends on electricity to drive the economy, more work will be needed to build on the groundwork laid by this legislation.

“Electric co-ops also urge Congress to provide financial flexibility to refinance existing government loans at today’s low interest rates and direct pay tax credits to boost electric co-op investments in 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 infrastructure legislation supports 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.

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.