May 20, 2016 is the 80th anniversary of the Rural Electrification Act of 1936. The REA was created to bring electricity to farms. In 1936, nearly 90 percent of farms lacked electric power because the costs to get electricity to rural areas were prohibitive.
REA funding and the hard work of Rural Electric Cooperatives transformed agriculture and life in rural America into productivity and prosperity. Thanks to hard work and REA loans, by 1950 close to 80 percent of U.S. farms had electric service. Since then, generations have heard the stories about “the night the lights came on,” a significant date for farm families.
Today’s rural electric cooperatives provide electricity to over 5.5 million rural customers. Since 2009, USDA has invested over $34 billion in nearly 1,000 rural electric projects to deliver affordable, reliable electricity to rural areas. Today’s projects strengthen rural electric systems and fund renewable energy and smart grid technologies.
In 1981, the preface in Rural Lines—USA, a publication of USDA’s REA noted, “Looking at the record of accomplishment, we might think the years ahead will be easier. They won’t be. The systems we have built will still need pioneers. Today we need men and women who can find new ways to tell their stories to members; who can plan systems to carry many times the present loads; who can chart a sensible and secure financial future. Rural Electrification will require new approaches, fresh ideas. In saluting those people who organized the systems, let us also salute the new pioneers, the planners, who will provide leadership in the years ahead.”
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Celebrating something that should have ended decades ago. Happy about spending $34 billion of tax payer dollars since 2009. Funding renewable energy and smart grids? Good Grief, Why?!
Why exactly is this needed anymore? And if so, why is the government responsible for it? Do these "rural electric cooperatives" make a profit or are they subsidized with my tax dollars?
This is just another government program that never ends and sucks down more and more money each year.
This is not something to be proud of - it is just the opposite.
We just Googled the REA to see if it was STILL in existence (I figured it was). According to the above, 80% of rural America had electricity by 1950. Great job. A successful Federal program. Does the other 20% have it yet?
Now we do have a BIG problem with our electric grid being ancient and vulnerable to attack as illustrated by the recent blackout in NYC and MAYBE the REA would be uniquely qualified to take on that cause but that's NOT what's being done.
Honestly, if someone asked me what I did and I had to say I ran or worked for the Rural Electrification Administration, I'd be embarrassed.
A great accomplishment to provide unlimited power to rural America. Everyone whom supplied knowledge, work and the finances should all be congratulated. Sincerely,
Robert L. Chamberlin.
Thank you for the help but how many people actually worked for the REA?
My grandparents lived on a farm in Carroll County, Ohio during the
Great Depression, and did not have electric power in their farmhouse. They
finally were able to get the service through the government program of
the Rural Electricification Act in about 1938 -1939. They were so grateful
to get electric in the affordable way, that the great president, FDR , and
administration made possible for so many rural people with the REA program.
This was a very helpful article.