Rural Missouri - June 2011 - (Page 5)
Hart to Heart
REA (RUS) pays its way
his month marks an important anniversary for Missouri’s electric cooperatives. Three systems — Boone Electric, Missouri Rural Electric and Lewis County Electric — celebrate their 75th anniversaries in June. Rural electrification brought many benefits to the people of rural Missouri. But it never would have happened without a unique public/private partnership between the people who wanted electricity and the federal government. One of the things holding back electricity for rural people 75 years ago was the tremendous cost of building power lines. Divide this expense by the relatively small population, and it appeared to be a no-win proposition to existing utilities who said it couldn’t be done because they couldn’t make a profit. Enter the Rural Electrification Administration, or REA. Established by President Franklin Roosevelt, this Department of Agriculture agency served as a banker for the fledgling electric cooperatives, supplying them with loans to pay for the power lines that finally brought electricity to rural people. Against all odds, rural Missourians proved wrong the skeptics who said these rural farmers couldn’t
by Barry Hart email@example.com
build an electric utility to provide themselves electricity. As a member of an electric cooperative, you know our ancestors built one of the best electric utility systems in the U.S.! Fast forward 75 years, and REA, now called the Rural Utilities Service (RUS), is just as important as it was in the 1930s. You can’t build an electric utility and expect it to last forever. Constant improvements to power lines are required to repair damage caused by nature or to keep service reliable. This reliable and affordable system also brought growth and economic opportunity to rural Missouri, which requires an improved system. New technology now available to make these systems more efficient and reliable requires more loan funds.
The RUS loan program was the biggest topic of discussion this year as 62 of Missouri’s directors, managers and key staff descended on Washington, D.C., in May for the annual legislative conference hosted by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. We reminded Missouri’s congressional delegation about the story of how this federal agency helped bring rural people out of the darkness and its vital role in keeping it that way today. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack recognizes the value of RUS loans and with his leadership, the administration has recommended a $6 billion loan level for the fiscal year 2012 budget. Congress has set the RUS loan level at $6.5 billion every year since 2008, and our message to Congress is to
“In true rural tradition, electric cooperatives pay back the money they borrow on time — and with interest.” Barry Hart
uphold that small increase over the president’s budget this year. Our message to Congress: The RUS loan program helps reduce our national deficit and cutting its appropriation would be a big mistake. Just like its predecessor, REA, the Rural Utilities Service is a lending program, not a spending one. Because rural electric cooperatives are governed by hard working, respected directors who believe it is a responsibility to repay your debt, loan repayments are expected and our nation benefits. According to RUS, the delinquency rate on electric loans is zero percent. In true rural tradition, electric cooperatives pay back the money they borrow on time — and with interest. Repayments on RUS loans will actually result in more than $100 million to the U.S. Treasury in fiscal year 2012. Many years ago, those attending the legislative conference wore buttons that said, “REA pays its way.” That statement was true then, and it remains just as accurate today. Congratulations to all the electric cooperatives that will soon celebrate their 75th anniversaries. This milestone shows electric cooperatives remain just as vital today as they were in the beginning. Hart is the executive vice president of the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives.
Some homegrown help at the pump
onsumers will have options for saving money at the fuel pump in the near future. As gas prices keep going up, we need to explore other options. Maximizing the use of renewable energy sources is one way to meet our demand and reduce our dependency on expensive foreign oil. Nearly all retail gasoline stations dispense an E10 blend, which contains 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent gasoline. There is a growing trend in the United States toward fuels with higher ethanol content. Flexible fuel pumps, sometimes called “blender pumps,” are specifically designed to make available ethanolgasoline blends up to E85 and several blends in between. There are millions of flex-fuel vehicles and adequate ethanol production, but there are not enough flexible-fuel pumps available. USDA Rural Development recently announced a Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) containing flex-fuel options. A portion of the program provides financing, including grants, that are available to provide fuel station owners with incentives to install
by Anita “Janie” Dunning
flexible-fuel pumps that will give Americans more renewable energy options. This flex-fuel program was included in the Notice of Funding Availability which was published on April 14, 2011, in the Federal Register. Applications are now being accepted for financial assistance including: grants, guaranteed loans and combined grants and guaranteed loans. Funds can be used to help agricultural producers and rural small businesses develop renewable energy systems, make energy-efficiency improvements and conduct studies to
determine the feasibility of renewable energy systems. A component of REAP offers options for financing the conversion of fuel station pumps or installation of new flex-fuel pumps resulting in a choice for Missourians when purchasing fuel in the future. Biofuels hold a tremendous promise for replacing foreign oil with homegrown energy. USDA Rural Development is working hand in hand with local partners and entrepreneurs to build this industry — and if we are successful, it will create hundreds of thousands of jobs growing and harvest-
“Biofuels hold a tremendous promise for replacing foreign oil with homegrown energy.” Anita “Janie” Dunning
ing biomass, building and operating refineries and transporting biofuels to market. Another great opportunity is that the new program can be coupled with $5,000 incentives offered from both Growth Energy and the Missouri Corn Growers Association. The deadlines for submitting completed REAP applications are June 15 and June 30, depending on the type of project to be funded. For information on how to apply for assistance, contact a USDA Rural Development office or follow this link to the April 14, 2011, Federal Register: http://edocket. access.gpo.gov/2011/pdf/2011-8456. pdf. Applications also are available on the Missouri Rural Development website at www.rurdev.usda.gov/mo. Rural Development assistance builds on the Obama administration’s commitment to “Win the Future” by ensuring the nation develops innovative ways to meet future energy needs. We must start today, for the sake of our economy, prosperity and future generations. Let’s do our part by encouraging installation of these pumps and then buying the fuel. Dunning is the Missouri state director for USDA Rural Development.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - June 2011
Rural Missouri - June 2011
In the beginning
The Missouri Lyon hunt
Beaver Creek Paylake & Fish Fry
Out of the Way Eats
Hearth and Home
In the middle of everywhere
Rural Missouri - June 2011
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