Thursday, October 26 (Washington, D.C.) — Rural energy advocates from across the country launched today emPower Rural America (ePRA), a coalition dedicated to amplifying rural perspectives and interests in electricity transmission buildout efforts.
Made up of rural community and agri-business leaders, ePRA provides an avenue for advocates from across the United States to work with policymakers and the energy industry to modernize the nation’s energy infrastructure where the needs are most acute.
“emPower Rural America unites different perspectives on the energy reliability issues facing our country, particularly in rural and agricultural areas,” said Denise Bode, Managing Partner and President of Constitution Partners, which organized the creation of ePRA. “The goal of the coalition is for stakeholders from across the agricultural and rural economies to share ideas, generate solutions, and together advocate for the energy security of their communities.”
Among others, ePRA’s leadership board is comprised of:
o John Bode, President and CEO of the Corn Refiners Association
o Ted McKinney, CEO, and Josie Montoney-Crawford, Manager of Public Policy at National Association of State Departments of Agriculture
o Rodd Moesel, President of the Oklahoma Farm Bureau
o Steve Austin, Government Relations Director at Red Gold
o James Rice, Manager and Operator at Rice Family Farm
o Stewart Higgins, Chief Global Supply Officer at Pero Family Farms
o Kay Rentzel, Executive Director of the Southeast Food Processors Association
o Trudi Hughes, President and CEO of the California League of Food Producers
o Don Brown, former Commissioner of the Colorado Department of Agriculture
ePRA will host its inaugural meeting today, with the purpose of discussing the energy concerns that participants’ different regions are facing, as well as establishing the coalition’s upcoming objectives.
Rural and agricultural communities are impacted by a wide range of infrastructure-related issues, from reliability to broadband access to restricted economic development opportunities due to insufficient energy resources. Bottlenecks caused by the lack of modern infrastructure can lead to the cancellation or relocation of job-creating projects and prevent the deployment of cutting-edge technologies that increase safety and yields in farmers’ fields.
The benefits of increasing electric transmission would be substantial for rural and agricultural communities. Not only would the expansion of transmission improve access to lower-cost, reliable electricity, but it would also bring upwards of $7.8 trillion in investments and more than six million new jobs to rural America. While some rural Americans may have concerns about transmission buildout, ePRA’s goal is to ensure that energy developers work with these communities to mitigate the impact and provide them the maximum possible benefits for infrastructure expansion.
“Millions of U.S. farmers work to provide sustenance to people across the country. These stewards of the land closely monitor the unfolding developments in Washington, D.C., particularly in the realm of transmission modernization. It’s not just our homes that need dependable access to electricity; our farms rely on it, too,” said Kay Rentzel, Executive Director of the Southeast Food Processors Coalition and member of ePRA. “From the key innovations of precision agriculture to the potential of cloud-based solutions, it’s imperative that our farming communities keep pace as America reinvests in our energy infrastructure. I am enthusiastic about collaborating with emPower Rural America to ensure that rural and agricultural regions have a voice in the transmission conversation.”