ARLINGTON, Va. – NRECA CEO Jim Matheson today issued the following statement after the U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass the omnibus spending bill containing several co-op priorities.
“House passage of this bill is a positive step for America’s electric cooperatives as we work to enhance the quality of life in rural communities across the nation,” Matheson said. “This bill strengthens programs that are essential to the economic health of rural America while also emphasizing the need to continue pursuing innovative solutions to future energy and economic needs. We look forward to working with the Senate and the Trump administration as this proposal moves forward.”
The omnibus spending bill includes key provisions that are beneficial to electric cooperative operations:
|$5.5 billion for USDA electric loan program||Electric co-op infrastructure improvements and upgrades. Loans are paid back to the government with interest.|
|$600 million to USDA for expanding rural broadband access through a pilot loan and grant program||Nearly 100 electric co-ops are investing in rural America by bringing high-speed internet access to homes, business and schools. Many more are exploring broadband and could access this funding stream.|
|Streamlining government red tape that impedes the ability of electric co-ops to manage vegetation near utility rights of way on public lands.||Paves the way for electric co-ops to bolster system reliability through improved land management access.|
|$353 million for DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency — Energy||Electric cooperatives leverage ARPA-E funding for innovative programs to promote fuel diversity and modernize energy systems.|
In addition to those provisions, the omnibus bill does not include the Trump administration’s budget proposal to sell PMA transmission assets and avoids drastic cuts to programs like the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program and the Rural Economic Development Loan & Grant Program.
The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association is the national service organization that represents the nation’s more than 900 not-for-profit, consumer-owned electric cooperatives, which provide service to 42 million people in 47 states.