Roundtable with Secretary Vilsack and Pedernales Electric Co-op CEO Shows Evolving Grid and Evolving Partnership

(Austin, Texas) – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS) today awarded $68 million to Pedernales Electric Cooperative (PEC). With this loan, PEC becomes the latest cooperative to take advantage of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Loan Program to make low-interest financing available to consumers for investments in efficiency and renewable energy.

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack joined the PEC CEO John Hewa for a roundtable discussion on how renewable energy and advanced efficiency solutions can strengthen small rural businesses.

Using the RUS loans, PEC is creating “Empower Loans,” a program that offers PEC members up to $20,000 for grid-tied Distributed Energy Resource (DER) systems, including distributed solar photovoltaic systems and grid-tied battery storage systems. The loans can also be used as well grid modernization to drive energy efficiency initiatives.

“The historic public-private partnership between the RUS and electric co-ops that led to an electric grid spanning the continent has evolved enabling rural communities to leverage the benefits of advanced technology,” said PEC CEO John Hewa. “Even as the technology for delivering safe, affordable and reliable electric is revolutionized with automation and advanced communications technologies, the end-goal remains the same:  strengthening economic prosperity in rural America.”

“The PEC loan program illustrates how the cooperatives’ consumer-centric business model can promote innovation and strengthen communities,” added CEO Jim Matheson, CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

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.