As part of the Obama Administration’s goal of doubling renewable energy production by 2012, America’s rural electric cooperatives are stepping forward to develop new, sustainable ways to produce electricity. These efforts are not only good for the environment; they help meet an expanding need for power due to growing rural consumer demand. The Rural Utilities Service (RUS), part of USDA’s Rural Development mission area, is a willing and ready partner in this effort. Read more »
Posts tagged: RUS
USDA Rural Development officials joined Greg Bell, Lieutenant Governor of the State of Utah recently at the 2010 Native American Summit held in Ogden. This historic gathering provided an opportunity to meet with Utah’s tribal Leaders, and explore the means available for USDA to become a more effective partner in delivering services and addressing tribal needs. Read more »
Written by Jonathan Adelstein, Administrator, Rural Utilities Service
I traveled to Philadelphia today to join the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation (CFC) for their 2010 national forum. We partner with CFC to finance electric cooperatives across rural America. It was a chance to talk about the progress USDA has made over the last 75 years toward rural electrification, and how we are on the frontlines again to bring access to high speed broadband to rural America.
In 1935, our agency was challenged to bring affordable electricity to millions of farms, ranches and homes in rural America. Today we face a similar challenge with deployment of broadband.
Rural Utilities Service (RUS), the agency I oversee, has been working with national partners such as the CFC to advance new policies and programs to develop and invest in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and smart grid technology. Integrated into our strategy is deployment of broadband. The Congress and President Obama included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding to jump start this effort. To date, we have committed investment of more than $1 billion for 68 rural broadband infrastructure projects in 32 states. That means over 500,000 households, 97,000 businesses and 3,300 anchor institutions will see the way they do business dramatically change – new opportunities for emerging markets, better access to health care and education.
Successful applicants include electric cooperative borrowers such as the Consolidated Electric Cooperative, who was selected for a loan-grant combination of over $2 million to construct a 166-mile middle mile network that will bring major city connectivity into underserved areas of North Central Ohio. It’ll provide badly needed connectivity for key community facilities and wireless internet service providers. It will also connect all of Consolidated’s substations to support its smart grid technology initiative.
This is exactly what we like to see – expanded broadband connectivity combined with sustainable, smart grid technology – delivered to rural America. It is this kind of leveraging between our electric and telecommunications program delivery that will help our cooperative partners offer key energy efficiency tools to residential consumers so that they can monitor their usage and reduce their monthly electricity costs.
These critical broadband investments will help keep the United States at the center of innovation, and they will bring greater job opportunities to our rural communities. It is the link to long-term sustainable economic growth that our rural communities so urgently need.
I am very pleased to launch our latest effort to encourage more widespread use and understanding of the life-saving field of telemedicine through our Power of Telemedicine web discussion. Telemedicine has grown steadily over the past decade. The USDA’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS) has participated consistently along the way, supporting innovation in telemedicine as early as 1993 with our Distance Learning and Telemedicine grant program. Our telemedicine program is designed specifically to meet the health care needs of rural America. Through loans, grants and loan and grant combinations, advanced telecommunications technologies provide enhanced health care opportunities for rural residents. It, together with our Distance Learning program, has funded over 900 projects in 48 states and several US Territories totaling over $300 million. Read more »
By Jonathan Adelstein, Administrator-USDA Rural Utilities Service
If you lived in a rural area 75 years ago, you probably didn’t have electricity. Water for livestock, cooking, cleaning and bathing had to be hand pumped from a well. Farmers risked milk spoilage in the summer, and people often got sick from lack of refrigeration of their food.
On May 11, 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an executive order to create the Rural Electrification Administration (REA) to bring power to rural areas. It was a resounding success. Nothing before or since has transformed rural America like the REA. Today’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS), part of the USDA Rural Development mission area, continues the work of REA. Just this week, four former REA and RUS administrators gathered in USDA’s radio studio, reflecting on their roles from 1993 to the present. Their observations will soon be available via podcast.
Rural Development, through RUS, is aggressively building a program to finance renewable energy, and rural America is rapidly becoming a greater energy producer for the nation. Not only is this part of President Obama’s clean energy economy, but it will also create quality jobs in rural America. Working with other federal agencies, rural electric cooperatives and other utilities, we are taking steps to modernize the electric grid and improve energy efficiency.
While working to improve electric transmission services we are also meeting a new challenge: Delivering broadband to rural communities. Without broadband, rural businesses are placed at a disadvantage and our children face diminished educational opportunities. Our next great achievement will be to build a system that will connect even the most remote places in America to the web.
Rural America’s future is bright, thanks to the thousands of men and women who have worked in or with the REA and now the RUS over the past three-quarters of a century.
Chances are, if you live in rural America, some of those people are your neighbors, as close as your local electric cooperative. They achieved a modern miracle, lighting rural America. This week, take a minute and think about all the good they’ve done. They’ve achieved the greatest success in a government technology program of all time.
(Left to right) Christopher McLean, Administrator, 2000-2001; Wally Beyer 1993-1999; James Andrew 2005-2009; Glenn English (CEO-NRECA); Hilda Gay Legg 2001-2005; Jonathan Adelstein 2009 – present; Dallas Tonsager (Undersecretary, USDA Rural Development); gathered on May 4 at the U.S. Capitol for an event marking the beginnings of the effort to bring electricity to rural America.