FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 26, 2023
Dan Radmacher, Appalachian Voices Media Specialist, (540) 798-6683, firstname.lastname@example.org
James Owen, Renew Missouri Executive Director, (417) 496-1924, James@renewmo.org
Erik Hatlestad, CURE Energy Democracy Program Director, (320) 905-1542, email@example.com
Ahead of today’s House Rules Committee meeting, the Rural Power Coalition urges the committee members to vote no on the pending Fiscal Year 2024 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies funding bill, H.R.4368. The bill makes significant cuts to critical investments in rural energy that could delay improvements to rural energy infrastructure by decades, leaving rural communities vulnerable to energy insecurity, continued fossil fuel pollution and volatile electricity costs.
Included in the bill are significant slashes to the Empowering Rural America program or “New ERA” and the Renewable Energy for America program. Created by the Inflation Reduction Act, New ERA is one of the most significant investments in rural electrification in history, with $9.7 billion in federal funding that will leverage nearly $40 billion in investments to critical rural energy infrastructure. Over the next 10 years, New ERA will create 90,000 jobs in rural communities and make the rural electric system more affordable, more reliable, and less polluting. H.R.4368 would rescind $1 billion from the program, limiting the number of rural communities able to benefit.
The bill also reduces the budget for the Rural Energy for America program by $500 million and eliminates all of the program’s grants. For more than two decades, this successful program has supported more than 22,000 on-site clean energy generation and energy efficiency projects for rural small businesses and farmers. In the 2023 fiscal year, USDA officials in states including West Virginia, Virginia and Tennessee have reported increases in REAP applications by two and threefold.
Statement by Erik Hatlestad, Energy Democracy Program Director at CURE:
“House members should vote no on this bill. Our rural communities and rural electric cooperatives have been waiting for decades for federal investment at this scale, and taking away the opportunity after it was already approved by Congress and signed by President Biden would be a slap in the face.”
Statement by Bri Knisley, Director of Public Power Campaigns at Appalachian Voices:
“Rural people on average pay higher utility bills than their urban and suburban neighbors. “Investments like New ERA and REAP will help bring those costs down while improving reliability and modernizing the rural electric system. This bill would stall critically needed energy upgrades and economic development for rural communities by decades.”
Statement by Philip Fracica, Director of Programs at Renew Missouri:
“These clean energy programs are broadly supported by rural utilities, farmers, ranchers, workers and rural small businesses from across the country. Cuts to these programs would hinder creation of thousands of rural jobs and vastly reduce energy savings for rural Americans.”
About the Rural Power Coalition: The RPC is a group of place-based organizations representing rural electric cooperative member-owners from the five dirtiest electric co-ops in the United States. The RPC sees a future for electric cooperatives that is grounded in justice, democracy, and resilience. To achieve this vision, the RPC has put forth a bold, yet common sense proposal to help all rural electric cooperatives make this transition and build a clean energy system for every resident in their service areas.