CURE celebrates $9.7 billion in federal funds available for clean energy investments
The push for this program started in 2017 with internal conversations in CURE’s Energy Democracy Program, which grew into grassroots discussions with farmers and co-op members across Minnesota. In 2018, CURE began work with several partner organizations on researching and drafting the Rural Electrification 2.0 Report examining barriers to the clean energy transition and policy solutions to those barriers. This report was released in 2019, recommending major new investments and policy shifts to allow co-ops stranded asset relief and resources to accelerate the co-op clean energy transition. These priorities gained support from several candidates in the Presidential Primary, including Vice President Harris and others.
In 2020 at the outset of the pandemic, CURE, with several organizational partners, led the drafting of a call to action to support rural electric cooperative member-owners and co-ops themselves to address the immediate crisis and long-term needs. This letter grew into the Rural Power Coalition – a national coalition of organizations pushing for democracy and new investments in rural electric cooperatives.
With CURE’s leadership, new investments in rural electrification gained the support of the new Biden Administration, who included it as a priority for rural investment in their Build Back Better Agenda. Finally, the program that would become New ERA was included in every edition of Build Back Better and the Inflation Reduction Act thanks to tireless advocacy from CURE.
“Today marks the end of a five-year chapter in the nearly 100-year saga of rural electrification,” said Erik Hatlestad, Energy Democracy Program Director at CURE, who authored the Rural Electrification 2.0 Report and led the Rural Power Coalition’s advocacy. “Together, rural advocates have researched, created, and won the largest investment in rural electrification since 1936.”
He continued, “When co-ops and rural democracy advocates work together, we win big for rural America. That’s how Rural Electrification got done back in the 1930s. Today we have a historic opportunity to create rural jobs once again, save rural residents money, and take action on climate.”
This summer, rural electric cooperatives from across the country will be able to apply to the New ERA Program. With Minnesota cooperatives strongly positioned to submit competitive applications and win awards, Minnesota’s cooperative leaders must take advantage of this singular opportunity that advocates have won on their behalf.