As Congress continues to debate its budget for next year, Renew Missouri is joining groups across the country to press federal funding to help rural communities move towards clean energy.
Renew is part of the Rural Power Coalition, a group of organizations working with rural electric cooperatives in several states, which stands for $ 100 billion in federal loans with forgiveness to help cooperatives move to clean energy. According to the coalition, the rural cooperative system has found it difficult to make the transition without raising rates to pay off other federal loans.
Renew Missouri chief executive James Owen said the loans will allow cooperatives to make the transition without accumulating additional debt – a concept the group initially promoted as part of the CARES bill.
“We’ve been working on this for just over a year. In Missouri, rural electrical cooperatives are not part of the larger energy market. They generate their own electricity from these coal plants, ”Owen told the Missouri Times. “The idea behind this law is to provide cooperatives with loan forgiveness, and in return they close their factories and get money to be reinvested in clean energy production.”
The coalition’s request is based on projected costs for cooperatives for the transition, including plant closures, totaling $ 57 billion nationwide, with 10 percent of that allocated to provide economic support to displaced workers.
An additional $ 35 billion will go to improve the energy efficiency of 5 million households served by cooperatives, and $ 8 billion will go to support electric vehicle chargers. The group has offered to use the remaining $ 10 billion to help the industry recover from the consequences COVID-19 pandemic…
Owen said Renew is discussing the move with Missouri cooperatives to see if they join the effort.
Renew Missouri policy organizer Philip Fracica took part in a virtual town hall hosted by the coalition this week, where he provided an update on efforts to add the program to either a bipartisan infrastructure bill going through Congress or USDA budget. Despite the help of lawmakers, including the Missouri Congressman Corey BushFracica said the coalition’s request requires additional attention as the budget process continues.
“It’s not really a priority right now, so we’re bringing people together to try to give momentum to this and make sure that members of Congress really understand how important it will be to have rural electric cooperatives in any infrastructure plan. , “he said.” There is a lot we can do in the budgeting process to make sure that this is done in a way that prioritizes rural interests. “
Fracica said the priority reinvestments will include broadband infrastructure, which lawmakers are focusing on. both state and federal as well as utilities and cooperatives.
Missouri Utilities Are Taking Their Own Steps Towards Clean Energy Through Government the first electric school bus across northern Missouri thanks to the Lewis and Ameren County Cooperative expanding its renewable energy portfolio with wind farms as well as solar installations… Congressman Emanuel Cleaver submitted a request from his own federal budget to help Kansas City expand your fleet of zero-emission buses…
Owen said collaborating with cooperatives in out-of-state and federal legislators could lead to increased investment in clean energy in Missouri.
“Ultimately, I think it’s good that people from all over the country are working on this because it will also benefit communities across the country – but it will absolutely benefit Missouri,” he said. “A lot of people are working to figure out what’s in that budget, but every time you invest in infrastructure and agriculture, it’s a good investment for everyone. I think it could be really innovative, especially here. “