NRECA Hails Co-op Interest in USDA New ERA Co-op Energy Innovation Program

ARLINGTON, Va. – National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) CEO Jim Matheson today issued the following statement after overwhelming interest by electric cooperatives in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) $9.7 billion New ERA program to promote energy innovation.

“The demand for the New ERA program illustrates the innovative spirit of electric cooperatives as they explore new ways to meet tomorrow’s energy needs and prepare for a future that depends on electricity to power more of the economy,” Matheson said. “It’s no surprise to see electric co-ops oversubscribe the New ERA program, which is an exciting and transformative opportunity for co-ops and their local communities. The program rightly prioritized voluntary, flexible decision-making that allowed electric co-ops to take a tailored approach to respond to local energy needs.”

USDA announced record demand by electric co-ops for the New ERA program. According to USDA, co-ops submitted letters of interest for the program that are more than double the amount of available funding for grants and loans through the program.

NRECA worked to help shape the program, which was passed by Congress in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). It is designed specifically for electric cooperatives interested in purchasing or building new 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.