NRECA Applauds USDA Rules for New Co-op Energy Innovation Program

ARLINGTON, Va. – National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) CEO Jim Matheson today applauded the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) workable guidance for electric co-ops seeking to access $9.7 billion in energy innovation funding.

“This is an exciting and transformative opportunity for co-ops and their local communities, particularly as we look toward a future that depends on electricity to power more of the economy,” Matheson said. “USDA has smartly structured this program in a way that will help electric co-ops leverage new tools to reduce costs and keep energy affordable while meeting the future energy needs of their rural communities. I’m grateful to USDA for listening to us throughout this process and for settling on rules that ensure the program is flexible and accessible to all electric cooperatives.”

NRECA worked to help shape the program, which was passed by Congress through the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). It is designed specifically for electric cooperatives interested in purchasing or building new clean energy systems and will be administered by USDA’s Rural Utilities Service.

The wide range of eligible projects – including carbon capture, renewable energy, storage, nuclear, and generation and transmission efficiency improvements – allows each cooperative to determine its path based on its unique circumstances.  Co-ops will be eligible to receive a grant for as much as 25% of their project cost, with a maximum amount of loans and grants limited to $970 million for any one entity.

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.