Renew Missouri Joins Nationwide Push for $ 100 Billion in Clean Energy Loans
As Congress continues to debate its budget for next year, Renew Missouri is joining groups across the country to push for federal funding to help rural communities transition to clean power generation.
Renew is part of the Rural Power Coalition, a collection of organizations working with rural electricity cooperatives in several states which pleads for $ 100 billion in federal loans with terms of forgiveness to help co-ops make the transition to clean energy. The rural cooperative system has struggled to make the transition without raising rates to pay off debts on other federal loans, according to the coalition.
Renew Missouri executive director James Owen said the loans would allow co-ops to make the switch without racking up additional debt, a concept the group originally advocated as part of a CARES Act program.
“We’ve been working on this for a little over a year. In Missouri, rural power co-ops are not part of a larger energy market. They generate their own electricity from these coal-fired power plants, ”Owen told the Missouri Times. “The idea behind this legislation is to give a loan rebate to co-ops, and in return, they close factories and get money to reinvest in clean energy production. ”
The coalition’s demand is based on the estimated costs for co-ops to make the switch, including plant closures totaling $ 57 billion across the country, with 10 percent of that allocation going to provide economic support to displaced workers.
An additional $ 35 billion would be used to increase the energy efficiency of 5 million homes served by co-ops, while $ 8 billion of the credit would strengthen electric vehicle chargers. The group suggested using the remaining $ 10 billion to help relieve the industry from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Owen said Renew was discussing the push with the Missouri co-ops to see if they would join the effort as well.
Renew Missouri policy organizer Philip Fracica attended a coalition-hosted virtual town hall this week where he provided an update on efforts to add the program to the bipartisan infrastructure bill in being developed in Congress or US Department of Agriculture budget. Despite help from lawmakers, including the Missouri MP Cori bush, Fracica said the coalition’s request needs additional attention as the budget process continues.
“Right now it’s not really a priority, so we’re bringing people together to try and build momentum on this and make sure members of Congress really understand how important it will be to have rural power cooperatives in any infrastructure plan., “he said. “In the budget process, we can make a lot of commitment to make sure this is done in a way that prioritizes rural interests.
Fracica said priority reinvestments will include broadband infrastructure, a target of lawmakers on both state and federal level as well as utility companies and cooperatives.
Missouri Utilities Take Own Steps Toward Clean Energy With State first electric school bus crossing northern Missouri thanks to the Lewis County Cooperative and Ameren increasing its renewable energy production portfolio thanks to wind farms and solar installations. Congressman Emanuel Cleaver submitted his own federal budget request to help Kansas City strengthen its zero-emission bus fleet.
Owen said working with co-ops in other states and legislators at the federal level could lead to cleaner energy investments in Missouri.
“At the end of the day, I think it’s good that we have people from all over the country working on this because it’s something that will also benefit communities across the country – but it will absolutely benefit the community. Missouri, ”he said. “A lot of people are struggling to figure out what goes into this budget, but every time you invest in infrastructure and agriculture, it’s a good investment for everyone. I think it could be really revolutionary, especially here.
Cameron Gerber studied journalism at Lincoln University. Prior to Lincoln, he obtained an associate’s degree from State Fair Community College. Cameron is from Eldon, Missouri.
Contact Cameron at [email protected]