Increasing Renewable Electricity Use Positive for Rural America

WASHINGTON (July 31, 2007) - As the House of Representatives begins debate on energy legislation, National Farmers Union is urging adoption of a national Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) to increase use of electricity generated from renewable sources. NFU released a report on the issue today, "Energizing Rural America: How Renewable Electricity Standards Generate Rural Economic Prosperity" that highlights multiple studies' key findings showing significant increases in jobs, business activity and local tax revenues as a result of enactment of a national RES.

"A national renewable electricity standard will provide significant economic opportunity in rural America," NFU President Tom Buis said.

The report points out that electrical power opens a massive new market for farmers. The report notes that U.S. retail electricity sales total $330 billion per year while farmer cash receipts for all products in 2006 totaled $236 billion.

The RES would draw on the success of the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) and similar state initiatives by requiring a certain percentage of the market be supplied by renewable energy sources such as wind and bioenergy. NFU has called for adoption of a national RES of 25 percent by 2025 that includes a strong local ownership component and supports efforts underway in the House to require renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, geothermal and biomass to provide 20 percent of America's electricity by 2020.

The report notes that under an RES:

Payments to farmers for biomass energy crops would total at least $25 billion by 2020, and could reach $34 billion;

Payments to rural landowners for wind farm leases would total $475 million to $562 million and local benefits could be three to five times higher if wind projects were locally owned;

$43.4 billion to $66.7 billion in capital would be invested in new clean energy facilities, mostly in rural areas; and

New clean power plants would increase revenues by $1.5 billion to $2 billion.

"America's family farmers and ranchers are playing a significant role in reducing our nation's dependence on foreign oil by producing fuels from the farm, such as ethanol, and these efforts are revitalizing rural communities across the country," NFU President Tom Buis said. "Further developing our wind and bioenergy resources through a renewable energy standard would produce a similar, positive outcome for the countryside."