Rural Electrification Act
|Other short titles||Rural Electrification and Telephone Service Act of 1936|
|Long title||An Act to provide for rural electrification, and for other purposes.|
|Nicknames||Rural Electrification Act of 1936|
|Enacted by||the 74th United States Congress|
|Effective||May 20, 1936|
|Public law||Pub.L. 74–605|
|Statutes at Large||49 Stat. 1363|
|Titles amended||7 U.S.C.: Agriculture|
|U.S.C. sections created||7 U.S.C. ch. 31 § 901 et seq.|
The funding was channeled through cooperative electric power companies, hundreds of which still exist today. These member-owned cooperatives purchased power on a wholesale basis and distributed it using their own network of transmission and distribution lines. The Rural Electrification Act was one of many New Deal proposals by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to remedy high unemployment during the Great Depression
On May 11, 1935, President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 7037, which created the Rural Electrification Administration. In 1936, the Congress endorsed Roosevelt's action by passing the Rural Electrification Act. At the time the Rural Electrification Act was passed, electricity was commonplace in cities but largely unavailable in farms, ranches, and other rural places. Representative John E. Rankin and Senator George William Norris were supporters of the Rural Electrification Act, which was signed into law by Roosevelt on May 20, 1936.
Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn was a major proponent of the REA, which he helped pass in 1936 as Chairman of the House Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee. He proudly stated in 1959 that ninety percent of farm homes in the U.S. were electrified, compared to three percent in the early 1930s.
In the 1930s, the provision of power to remote areas was not thought to be economically feasible. A 2300 volt distribution system was then used in cities. This relatively low voltage could be carried only about 4 miles before the voltage drop became unacceptable.
REA cooperatives used a 7200 volt distribution network, which could support much longer runs (up to about 40 miles). Despite requiring more expensive transformers at each home, the overall system cost was manageable.
Wiring homes and farms
REA crews traveled through the American countryside, bringing teams of electricians along with them. The electricians added wiring to houses and barns to utilize the newly available power provided by the line crews. A standard REA installation in a house (post World War II) consisted of:
- A 60 amp range circuit
- A 20 amp kitchen circuit
- Two or three 15 amp lighting circuits
A ceiling-mounted light fixture was installed in each room, usually controlled by a single switch mounted near a door. At most, one outlet was installed per room, since plug-connected appliances were expensive and uncommon. Wiring was performed using type NM (nonmetallic sheathed cable), insulated with asbestos-reinforced rubber covered with jute and tar.
Many of these original installations still exist today, though most have been augmented to support a greater number and variety of appliances.
Some amendments to the Rural Electrification Act include:
- 1944 - loan terms increased to 35 years, the act is made permanent
- 1949 - extended the act to allow loans to telephone companies wishing to extend their connections to unconnected rural areas
- 1993 - Provisions to restructure the direct loan programs for rural electricity, telephone cooperatives, and energy conservation market
- December 8, 1993 - "North American Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act" - The "Buy American" provision to now include Mexico and Canada.
- 2008 - Provisions for access to rural broadband telecommunications network and rural internet
- 2014 - Pilot program for rural gigabit broadband network
|Date of Enactment||Public Law Number||U.S. Statute Citation||U.S. Legislative Bill||U.S. Presidential Administration|
|September 21, 1944||P.L. 78-425||58 Stat. 734||H.R. 4278||Franklin D. Roosevelt|
|October 28, 1949||P.L. 81-423||63 Stat. 948||H.R. 2960||Harry S. Truman|
|June 15, 1955||P.L. 84-70||69 Stat. 131||S. 153||Dwight D. Eisenhower|
|October 23, 1962||P.L. 87-862||76 Stat. 1140||H.R. 10708||John F. Kennedy|
|May 7, 1971||P.L. 92-12||85 Stat. 29||S. 70||Richard M. Nixon|
|June 30, 1972||P.L. 92-324||86 Stat. 390||H.R. 14423||Richard M. Nixon|
|May 11, 1973||P.L. 93-32||87 Stat. 65||S. 394||Richard M. Nixon|
|November 4, 1975||P.L. 94-124||89 Stat. 677||H.R. 4799||Gerald R. Ford|
|October 20, 1976||P.L. 94-570||90 Stat. 2701||H.R. 12207||Gerald R. Ford|
|May 25, 1984||P.L. 98-300||98 Stat. 215||H.R. 2211||Ronald W. Reagan|
|October 21, 1992||P.L. 102-428||106 Stat. 2183||H.R. 5237||George H.W. Bush|
|November 1, 1993||P.L. 103-129||107 Stat. 1356||H.R. 3123||William J. Clinton|
|December 17, 1993||P.L. 103-201||107 Stat. 2342||H.R. 3514||William J. Clinton|
|June 18, 2008||P.L. 110-246||122 Stat. 1651||H.R. 6124||George W. Bush|
|February 7, 2014||P.L. 113-79||128 Stat. 649||H.R. 2642||Barack H. Obama II|
- Tim Sablik, “Electrifying Rural America”, ‘’Econ Focus’’, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, First Quarter 2020.
- Rural Electrification Act. Ohio History Central.
- Peters, Gerhard; Woolley, John T. "Franklin D. Roosevelt: "Executive Order 7037 Establishing the Rural Electrification Administration.," May 11, 1935". The American Presidency Project. University of California - Santa Barbara. Retrieved 3 July 2016.
- https://easttexashistory.org/items/show/73 . Retrieved 25 December 2018.
- Peters, Gerhard; Woolley, John T. "Franklin D. Roosevelt: "Statement on Signing a Rural Electrification Bill.," September 22, 1944". The American Presidency Project. University of California - Santa Barbara. Retrieved 3 July 2016.
- Peters, Gerhard; Woolley, John T. "Harry S. Truman: "Statement by the President Upon Signing Bill Providing for Improved Rural Telephone Facilities.," October 28, 1949". The American Presidency Project. University of California - Santa Barbara. Retrieved 3 July 2016.
- Peters, Gerhard; Woolley, John T. "William J. Clinton: "Statement on Signing the Rural Electrification Loan Restructuring Act of 1993," November 1, 1993". The American Presidency Project. University of California - Santa Barbara. Retrieved 4 July 2016.