President Joe Biden has unveiled his fiscal 2022 budget proposal—his first chance to offer sweeping spending priorities since taking office.
Biden's plan includes scores of items that could affect electric cooperatives, including increased funding for broadband deployment and a boost for the Rural Utilities Service Electric Loan Program.
Many of the president's proposals, announced May 28, call for increased spending on clean energy programs and efforts to reduce carbon emissions.
Like all presidents, Biden's budget plan is largely a wish list from the administration, giving insight into its goals. Congress, which has the power of the purse, is responsible for funding the government and typically sets its own spending priorities and levels.
Here are key elements of the proposal that would affect co-ops if approved by Congress:
$6.5 billion in loan authority for the Rural Utilities Service Electric Loan Program, an increase of $1 billion over 2021. The administration wants to focus more funding on clean energy projects, but it doesn't appear to be a requirement to get a loan.
$700 million for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Broadband ReConnect Program—$65 million more than this year. The program provides loans and grants to fund broadband deployment in rural communities.
$400 million in new funding to give rural electric providers “financial flexibility as they accelerate to carbon-pollution free electricity by 2035." Up to 5% could be used for administrative costs to carry out the program.
$10 billion in separate funding for rural electric co-ops to transition to clean energy and retire coal-fired plants. This program lacks details, including whether co-op participation is voluntary.
$1.8 billion boost for Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster relief, including $540 million more for pre-disaster planning and resiliency.
$8 billion—27% more than this year—for advanced nuclear energy, electric vehicles, hydrogen and other clean energy technologies.
$600 million for electric vehicles and charging infrastructure in the budgets of 18 federal agencies.
$3.8 billion for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, an increase of $100 million over this year.
Targets investments to help workers harmed by the closure of coal mines and coal-fired power plants. Proposes to double funding to coal communities under the Power Plus Plan, an Obama-era initiative to diversify their economies.