Rural Electrification Administration

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Rural Electrification Administration

Rural Electrification Administration (REA), former agency of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture charged with administering loan programs for electrification and telephone service in rural areas. The REA was created (1935) by executive order as an independent federal bureau, authorized by the Congress in 1936, and later (1939) reorganized as a division of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture. The REA undertook to provide farms with inexpensive electric lighting and power. To implement those goals the administration made long-term, self-liquidating loans to state and local governments, to farmers' cooperatives, and to nonprofit organizations; no loans were made directly to consumers. In 1949 the REA was authorized to make loans for telephone improvements; in 1988, REA was permitted to give interest-free loans for job creation and rural electric systems. By the early 1970s about 98% of all farms in the United States had electric service, a demonstration of REA's success. The administration was abolished in 1994 and its functions assumed by the Rural Utilities Service.

See C. T. Ellis, A Giant Step (1966); D. C. Brown, Electricity for Rural America (1980).

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