State of the Union: Energy Policy Discussion Must Address Electric Co-op Priorities

ARLINGTON, Va. – National Rural Electric Cooperative Association CEO Jim Matheson issued the following statement in response to President Biden’s State of the Union address:

“As the war in Ukraine continues, the importance of domestic energy security is high on the minds of the American public. For electric cooperatives and the communities they serve, that means keeping the lights on at a price consumers can afford. To do that, co-ops adopt a flexible approach that focuses on people instead of profits as they innovate to meet tomorrow’s energy needs.

“As the Biden administration and lawmakers continue discussions about the nation’s energy policy, it is critical that they address the needs of electric cooperatives and the rural communities they serve.

“The bipartisan infrastructure law is a pivotal step in the right direction with significant funding opportunities that will benefit rural American families and businesses. NRECA and our electric co-op members are working together to access these funds and spur investment in rural broadband, electric vehicles, grid modernization and a variety of other technologies. The administration should prioritize efforts to disperse this funding to improve the quality of life in rural communities.

“Electric co-ops are working to advance energy possibilities across rural America. In order to expedite these ongoing efforts, Congress should advance two electric cooperative policy priorities for which there is strong bipartisan support. Lawmakers should allow electric co-ops to access direct pay tax incentives to invest in advanced energy technologies. Co-ops’ tax-exempt status has precluded them from taking advantage of the federal tax credits that for-profit utilities have enjoyed for many years. This imbalance must be corrected.

“Lawmakers also should approve legislation to empower electric co-ops to refinance USDA Rural Utilities Service loans at today’s interest rates without prepayment penalty. This would save co-ops billions of dollars that could be invested in infrastructure improvements, electric rate stability, and other initiatives critical to rural America.”

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.