NRECA to DOE: Electric Grid Requires Investments in Partnerships, Infrastructure and Ground-Up Innovation

July 1, 2016 — The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) today submitted comments (PDF) to the Department of Energy (DOE) for the second phase of the department’s Quadrennial Energy Review (QER), a soup-to-nuts examination of the nation’s electric system.

The recommendations submitted by NRECA on behalf of the nation’s more than 900 member-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperatives reflect the challenges and experience of a sector of the industry serving almost 75 percent of the nation’s landmass.

America’s electric cooperatives believe the following investments are vital to the strength of local and national economies and the quality of life that depends on safe, affordable, reliable and sustainable electricity:

  • Cooperatives believe building and investing in partnerships will be vital as the industry navigates dramatic changes in how electricity is generated, distributed and used. Co-op partnerships with the DOE on smart grid deployment and solar development both led to unforeseen advancements in cybersecurity and data modeling that benefit the industry as a whole. Co-ops look forward to more productive partnerships using this template.
  • Cooperatives are facing a shortage of skilled workers and leaders. Co-ops believe the DOE can continue to support and do more in the future through the Job Strategy Council and other programs it has in place.
  • Cooperatives believe federal standards must be aligned with national energy policy. Efficiency standards that fail to account for changes in electricity generation and technology developments could hinder progress toward national goals, including federal climate change objectives.
  • Cooperatives are concerned by the gap between the timeframe for permitting new generation and the much longer times needed for approving and building transmission infrastructure. This discrepancy creates challenges for planning, siting, financing and constructing energy infrastructure projects. Co-ops urge more timely permitting decisions.

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association is the national service organization that represents the nation’s more than 900 private, not-for-profit, consumer-owned electric cooperatives, which provide service to 42 million people in 47 states.