In a landmark move, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has made a historic announcement, pledging a staggering $10.7 billion investment in rural electrification. Since President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Rural Electrification Act of 1936 into law, this initiative represents the largest commitment to rural electrification.
The newly launched New ERA (Electricity Reliability and Affordability) program aims to assist rural Americans in transitioning to clean, affordable, and reliable energy sources while mitigating air and water pollution. This monumental funding is expected to improve health outcomes and reduce energy costs for communities residing in rural areas.
The New ERA program provides financial support to member-owned rural electric cooperatives. These funds can be utilized for a range of purposes, including enhancing energy efficiency in eligible transmission and generation systems.
Additionally, cooperatives can employ the funds to purchase, construct, or deploy renewable energy technologies, zero-emission systems, carbon capture storage systems, or procure renewable energy.
The foremost objective of the New ERA program is to facilitate the transition towards cleaner, more affordable, and more eliable energy sources in rural regions across the United States. By reducing air and water pollution, this initiative aims to improve the overall health outcomes of rural Americans while simultaneously lowering energy costs.
The program specifically targets member-owned rural electric cooperatives, recognizing their pivotal role in delivering electricity to rural areas.
These cooperatives can access substantial funds to implement energy efficiency measures, upgrade transmission, and generation systems, and adopt renewable energy solutions. By empowering these cooperatives, the USDA aims to foster localized decision-making and promote community-driven approaches to electrification.
Alongside the New ERA program, the USDA has introduced the PACE (Powering Agriculture and Clean Energy) initiative, which complements the efforts of the New ERA program. The PACE program offers financial support to renewable energy developers and electric service providers, including municipals, cooperatives, investor-owned utilities, and tribal utilities.
These funds can be utilized for financing large-scale solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, hydropower, and energy storage projects. By encouraging the development and deployment of renewable energy systems, the PACE program aims to foster sustainable and environmentally friendly energy solutions nationwide.
With the New ERA program and the PACE program, USDA is propelling the nation towards a greener future and fostering sustainable growth in rural areas.