Rural America needs more than roads and bridges when it comes to infrastructure. NRECA is working to remind policymakers about the broader infrastructure needs of rural America and the importance of reliable power.
Co-ops have three major priorities when it comes to infrastructure
- Any infrastructure package should recognize the need to maintain and enhance the rural electric grid, which powers 42 million Americans.
- Electric co-ops are also working to ensure more timely permitting decisions to expedite and reduce the costs of critical infrastructure projects. Regulatory review timelines for infrastructure can stretch on for years. These delays present reliability problems, strain existing infrastructure and can force electric co-ops to take drastic measures to keep the lights on.
- Rural broadband deployment also must be an infrastructure priority. Broadband access is limited across much of the nation's rural landscape but is a key ingredient to a healthy 21st century rural economy. Electric co-ops are working to expand rural broadband access and look forward to working with other stakeholders to close the digital divide.
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Here is a brief outlook on the energy landscape
- The Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects electricity needs will grow nationally 1.0 percent a year from 2006 through 2020, for a 12 percent increase requiring 112,000 megawatts (MW) of new generating capacity.
- EIA estimates demand will grow 26 percent by 2030, requiring a total of 258,000 new megawatts unless extraordinary efficiency measures are adopted. This magnitude of increase is roughly analogous to adding four more Californias.
- According to the LTRA, nearly 25,000 MW of coal generation is still slated for construction in the next ten years; however, the recent trend of cancellation and deferral of coal-fired plants casts doubt on many of these projects.
Demand for electricity is expected to increase 26 percent by 2030. At the same time, the cost of building new generation has skyrocketed while the funding to make capital investments has shrunk. These costs will be passed on to the consumer, making electric power less affordable for many Americans. The North American Electric Reliability Corporation, the organization charged with protecting reliability of the bulk power system, has warned that between now and 2015, some regions of the country may experience rolling black outs unless we build new generation capacity.