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The Farm Bill

The Farm Bill must include a strong rural development title that promotes federal programs designed to help improve the quality of life in rural America. The Farm Bill should contain tools that help electric cooperatives perform some of our most basic functions. First, it must provide financing for the basic electrification that is still essential to keeping the lights on in rural America. Second, the Farm Bill needs to facilitate the innovative work electric cooperatives do to deploy high speed communications technologies, generate and distribute electricity from renewable sources, and manage the electric grid more securely and efficiently. The Farm Bill must also support the role of many electric cooperatives as important economic development organizations in the communities we serve.   The current Farm Bill expires in September 2018. House and Senate Agriculture committees have already begun an extensive process to reauthorize this legislation. During 2017, NRECA and our members had the opportunity to provide feedback at nine different Congressional oversight hearings on the Farm Bill. As Congress now begins to draft new Farm Bill legislation, NRECA submitted these priorities for consideration that we believe promote a stronger rural America.  

Fast Fact

Farm Bill

 


Broadband for Rural America

America's Electric Cooperatives support dedicating a portion of the $20 billion dedicated to infrastructure contained in the Bipartisan Budget Agreement to fund high-speed internet development in rural America. NRECA has called on Congress to dedicate at least $2.5 billion in each of FY2018 and FY2019 toward this effort, and suggest that the funds be provided to the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) of the US Department of Agriculture to implement the broadband deployment program.   Funds should be dedicated to developing broadband deployment in unserved and under-served areas of the country, and should be made available on a level playing field to entities with experience in rural infrastructure development. The new funding should be used to provide a combination of loans and grants to maximize the program's impact, recognizing that low density has been and remains the largest barrier to broadband deployment in rural America. The program should recognize that loans could come from RUS loan programs or from private lenders. Under this proposal, entities eligible for existing RE Act loans would be eligible to supplement those loans with additional grant funds through a new pilot project. Additionally, the proposal suggests funding the existing "Rural Gigabit Network" program.  

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Rural Broadband Infrastructure Funding Fast Fact

 

Grid Security and Cyber Security

Protecting the nation's electric power grid and ensuring an affordable, reliable and secure supply of energy are top priorities for electric cooperatives. The North American power system is an incredibly complicated machine. System owners and operators, who have the greatest expertise in responding to and mitigating threats and vulnerabilities in this complex system, are engaged across the industry and with government to plan and prepare for existing and potential threats to the reliability of electricity in our nation.   The electric sector's strategy to protect critical assets is known as defense-in-depth, and is designed to address a wide variety of hazards to electric grid operations, including severe earth and space weather, cyber incidents, vandalism and other natural and manmade events. The electric power sector continuously monitors the bulk electric system and responds to events large and small. Consumers are rarely aware of these events primarily because the sector successfully executes its defense-in-depth strategy every day. In cases where an event impacts the consumer, this strategy combined with experience from decades of lessons learned maintaining and supplying power to the country have resulted in more efficient restoration of power.   As member-owned, not-for-profit utilities, electric cooperatives make protection and security of their systems and consumer-members' assets a high priority. NRECA works with its co-op members, industry partners and government agencies to develop and implement effective approaches to protecting systems.
 

Fast Fact

Electric Cooperatives Focus on Affordable, Reliable and Secure Electricity Supply



Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

Electric cooperatives depend on FEMA's Public Assistance Program to help restore electric power to consumers after natural disasters – such as floods, fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, and ice storms. Co-ops serve on average 7 consumers per mile of line, including some of the most rugged terrain of any electric utility, yet own and operate 42 percent of the distribution lines in the country. As such, disasters can have a disproportionate impact on electric cooperatives and their member-consumers. Congress made electric co-ops eligible for FEMA reimbursements to mitigate these costs, keep electricity prices down and ensure smooth recoveries from major natural disasters for not-for-profit, consumer-owned utilities. Without FEMA financial assistance, many co-op consumers living in disaster-stricken areas could face significantly higher electric rates. Electric cooperatives recognize the growing fiscal pressures on FEMA programs, and support developing ways to streamline disaster recovery programs while maintaining our commitment to efficient disaster recovery. Turning the lights back on as efficiently and safely as possible is job number one for co-ops after a disaster strikes.

Fast Fact

 Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Disaster Assistance