ARLINGTON, Va. – National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) CEO Jim Matheson issued the following statement regarding President Biden’s address to Congress:
“We’re encouraged to see President Biden prioritize the needs of rural America in his remarks tonight – specifically the need to modernize rural infrastructure and expand rural broadband access. We look forward to working with the administration and Congress in a bipartisan fashion to build momentum behind these ideas.
“Electric cooperatives focus on serving consumer-members across 48 states and specifically whether the lights will turn on at a price that consumers can afford. As we plan for a future that depends on electricity as the primary energy source for a majority of the economy, strategic investments in grid modernization and energy innovation are critical. We applaud the president’s commitment to repair and improve our nation’s critical infrastructure, with a focus on rural and low- and moderate-income families.
“For more than a quarter century, policymakers have wrestled with how to bridge the digital divide and bring broadband access to rural America. But still the gap persists. Electric co-ops know what it will take to connect rural America, and nearly 200 electric cooperatives are deploying broadband in their local communities today. President Biden’s plan to expand rural broadband access to all Americans—including prioritizing federal funds to networks affiliated with electric cooperatives and other non-profit groups—is an important step for rural families and businesses.”
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.