Statement on USDA’s Historic Investment of $11 Billion in Rural Clean Power
Statement by: Michelle Moore
CEO, Groundswell; Author of “Rural Renaissance”
USDA’s announcement today of $11 billion in grants and loans to build resilient, reliable, affordable clean energy is the biggest single investment in rural power since President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed The TVA Act almost exactly 90 years ago on May 18, 1933 – creating the Tennessee Valley Authority, which still serves more than 10 million people across Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia today.
Back then, nine out of ten rural families had no access to electricity, and private power companies wouldn’t run lines to serve them because they couldn’t make a profit serving small towns or farms. Groundbreaking New Deal-era institutions like the TVA and the Rural Electrification Administration combined the best of the public and private sector working in partnership. Together with homegrown, nonprofit rural electric cooperative and public power utilities, they delivered electricity to 90 percent of rural households in less than 15 years.
We’re at a similar crossroads today. Our energy systems are undergoing a massive, global transformation. Decarbonization, the electrification of the transportation sector, and bringing energy sector manufacturing and good paying jobs back home to the USA are creating extraordinary opportunities for clean economic growth. At the same time, rural Americans bear the highest energy burdens in the country, despite low energy rates, because underinvestment and disinvestment in rural infrastructure has created rural/urban housing disparities that drive big energy bills. And the big rural renewable energy projects serving urban and industrial energy customers often don’t share the savings with local small towns. We can do better!
That’s why the USDA’s investment in rural power couldn’t come at a better time because it gives us 11 billion opportunities to make sure that building our clean energy futures also revitalizes our hometowns.
About Groundswell’s SOUL program in rural Georgia, which puts energy efficiency to work as an investment in housing equity:
About “Rural Renaissance,” by Michelle Moore:
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Join Groundswell at The Rural Renaissance Roadshow, October 25-27, 2023, in Bentonville AR. Come learn practical strategies for revitalizing your hometown with clean energy, efficiency, and main street business development strategies.