Rural electric program likely to draw interest from Oklahoma electric co-ops

Electric Cooperatives Explained | MCR Safety Info Blog


The head of the Oklahoma Electric Cooperatives Association, Chris Meyers says no doubt, Oklahoma electric co-ops will take a serious look at the newly-announced USDA program offering $11 billions to boost clean energy systems in rural areas.

Responding to an inquiry by OK Energy Today, the general manager and CEO of the state association said there is always growth on the system and a need to replace and upgrade aging infrastructure.

“In addition, with the push to electrify transportation and everything else we are going to need substantial investments in the electric grid both rural and urban.  Short answer is yes there is very much a need for more rural infrastructure,” said Meyers.

Under the new funding offer, the Department of Agriculture will administer loan and grant programs, one totaling $9.7 billion for a grant and loan program called the New Empowering Rural America program or New ERA and the other, $1 billion for a Powering Affordable Clean Energy program to provide partly forgivable loans.

The new program is another extension of the Biden administration’s effort to enhance green energy in the U.S.

“It appears to me that the federal program is primarily in support of renewables and carbon reduction however, there is room for projects that would make the transmission system more efficient and/or resilient,” continued Meyers.

”  Both are needed if renewables are to reach full potential.  I don’t see an application for a coal fired plant or natural gas unit being funded.”

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said earlier this week, the funding ““continues an ongoing effort to ensure that rural America is a full participant in this clean energy economy.”

White House National Climate Advisor Ali Zaidi said rural areas can have more difficulty than more urban ones in attracting private sector investment. He explained the new programs are intended to allow those rural areas to take advantage of an industry-wide trend to invest in clean energy production.

“There’s a favorable wind blowing here,” he said. “This allows rural communities to put up a sail.”