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Delaware County Electric Cooperative Provides Electricity To Thousands Of Rural Families & Small Businesses – Schumer Says This Critical Fed Investment Will Support Co-Op Efforts To Provide Affordable Utilities To Rural Communities

Schumer Visited Delaware County Earlier This Year To Launch Push To Secure Fed $$$ For DCEC’s Advanced Line-Worker Training Program – With $400K From Appalachian Regional Commission’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Funding Coming To Delaware County, DCEC Can Now Expand Training And Improve Access To Hundreds Of Good-Paying Jobs Maintaining And Modernizing Infrastructure Across The Southern Tier

Schumer: Fed $$$ For DCEC Will Supercharge Good-Paying Jobs, Upgrade Infrastructure, And Bring Reliable Electricity To Rural Communities Across The Southern Tier!

After visiting Delaware County earlier this year, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer today announced $400,000 through the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) for the Delaware County Electric Cooperative (DCEC) to develop training curriculum and acquire supplies for its advanced line-worker training program. Earlier this year, Schumer visited Delaware County to launch an all-out push for DCEC’s new line-worker training program, projected to help train hundreds of workers for good-paying, jobs in the Southern Tier. The senator said this critical funding will create and support high-quality American jobs improving electricity service in rural areas, expanding access to affordable clean energy, and upgrading telecommunications infrastructure needed to power the local economy.

“Delaware County Electric Cooperative has long helped provide affordable electricity to our farms, families, and businesses in rural communities like here in Delaware County and across the Southern Tier. That is why after standing with our Delaware County linemen earlier this year I promised to fight to deliver resources to help grow their line-worker training program – not only helping to connect workers to good-paying jobs, but also supporting DCEC’s services to lower utility costs for our rural NY families,” said Senator Schumer. “This $400,000 federal investment will supercharge the tremendous work of DCEC in partnership with SUNY Delhi to create a training program that will provide line workers with the skills necessary for jobs maintaining and modernizing electric infrastructure in rural communities across the Southern Tier. I will continue to fight to deliver the funding to help our rural electric co-ops get the support they need to power this vital resource for rural communities across the Southern Tier and Mohawk Valley.”

“Delaware County Electric Cooperative (DCEC) is appreciative of this federal investment from the Appalachian Regional Commission and Senator Schumer’s strong support of our efforts to provide training to critical infrastructure workers, in partnership with SUNY Delhi.  Not only will this training help new and existing electrical line workers be better prepared to meet New York’s nation leading climate goals, it will help prepare broadband line workers to continue to make high speed internet available to communities in rural parts of our state. As beneficial electrification and broadband goals are reached across New York state, there will be an increased dependency on our electrical grid and critical infrastructure, requiring that highly trained, skilled workers are well prepared to get the job done,” said John Gasstrom, CEO/General Manager of the Delaware County Electric Cooperative.

“Senator Schumer has delivered significant federal investment for the Southern Tier, including millions to upgrade our energy infrastructure and deploy high-speed broadband to unserved households. The line-worker training program by DCEC and SUNY Delhi is an example of an innovative workforce development solution that will help our region take full advantage of the opportunity made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. As an Appalachian Regional Commission Local Development District, Southern Tier 8 is proud to support this federal investment to help improve workforce readiness and prepare workers for high-quality jobs in New York’s rural communities,” said Jen Gregory, Executive Director of the Southern Tier 8 Regional Board.

“This grant is an exciting next step to expand the partnership between DCEC and SUNY Delhi. Together we strive to become the education and training leader for New York’s utility and electrical operations workforce.  We are grateful to Senator Schumer for his commitment to economic growth in our region,” said Dr. Mary Bonderoff, Acting President of SUNY Delhi.

“Thank you to Senator Schumer, DCEC, and SUNY Delhi for their efforts. I look forward to the training and working with the college and the co-op to prepare the line-workers of the future,” said Dan Addy, Business Manager for IBEW Local 10.

Schumer explained that the DCEC is a not-for-profit electric distribution cooperative serving more than 4,800 member-owners in the rural counties of Delaware, Otsego, Schoharie, and Chenango in Upstate New York. An electric cooperative is a not-for-profit, consumer-owned electric power provider. Rural electric cooperatives were created to address service gaps in rural communities after it became evident that investor-owned utilities were unlikely to extend electrification to rural areas. There are approximately 900 rural electric co-ops in the U.S., with several rural electric cooperatives in New York including Delaware, Oneida-Madison, Otsego, and Steuben.

DCEC’s program, officially titled “Building a Skilled Workforce to Construct and Maintain Core Critical Electric and Broadband Infrastructure,” will utilize this federal funding to provide structured training needed to maintain core critical infrastructure in rural communities. The program will offer in-demand workforce training opportunities for both new and existing line-workers, and support outreach events in collaboration with workforce development organizations to showcase jobs opportunities.

The proposal will also help to address workforce needs in both the electric and telecommunications industries, building on other efforts in the region intended to help meet current and future workforce demands, such as the two-year electrical construction and utility operations degree program administered by SUNY Delhi. SUNY Delhi's AAS and AOS programs in Electrical Construction and Utility Operations focus on hands-on skills training in both residential and commercial wiring systems, overhead and underground utility installations, pole-climbing techniques, current construction standards and practices, as well as critical safety standards and risk aversion. Graduates of the program have 100% job placement in the industry with higher than average entry-level salaries.

Schumer added that the successful completion of this project will result in the creation of 4 to 5 full-time equivalent training positions, as well as 1 to 2 full-time equivalent administrative positions, to provide continuing training to industry and support the SUNY Delhi programs. As the need for utility line-workers continues to grow throughout the nation, DCEC expects that more educational institutions will want to use the program as a model and that the results of this project will be transferrable to other communities across Upstate New York. In addition, the co-op expects hundreds of students and workers to have skills improved through this program. During the project period, it is estimated that more than 200 students and workers will be served, putting hundreds of workers on a path to good-paying jobs in this industry. New workers trained through this program would potentially qualify to join the IBEW union, securing high-quality jobs locally, while current industry professionals would be able to advance to higher scales within the line-worker progression. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, utility workers have an average salary of over $65,000 per year with opportunities for quick advancement.

In 2021, Schumer negotiated and secured $1 billion for the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, to be dispersed over the next five years. This significant boost in funding will be used to support economic development, infrastructure, workforce, and other community development projects as well as programs intended to improve the quality of life, stimulate business growth, and create good-paying job opportunities in local communities like those in Delaware County and across the Southern Tier. Schumer also secured nearly $11 billion in grants and loan opportunities in the Inflation Reduction Act to help rural energy and utility providers bring affordable, reliable clean energy to their communities across the country.

The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) is an economic development partnership agency of the federal government and 13 state governments, focusing on 423 counties across the Appalachian Region. ARC’s mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community, capacity, and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia. New York State receives an allocation of resources from the ARC each year to fund area development in NYS’s 14-county Appalachian Region. The New York counties are represented by one of three Local Development Districts: Southern Tier West (STW) based in Salamanca, NY and comprised of Allegany, Cattaraugus, and Chautauqua counties; Southern Tier Central (STC) based in Corning, NY and comprised of Chemung, Schuyler and Steuben counties; and Southern Tier 8 in Binghamton, NY and comprised of Broome, Chenango, Cortland, Delaware, Otsego, Schoharie, Tioga and Tompkins counties.

A copy of Schumer’s letter of support to the Appalachian Regional Commission appears below:

Dear Co-Chair Connelly Manchin:

 I am pleased to write in support of the application submitted by the Delaware County  Electric Cooperative (DCEC) to the Appalachian Regional Commission’s (ARC) Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) Initiative. DCEC is a not-for-profit electric distribution cooperative serving more than 4,800 member-owners in the rural counties of Delaware, Otsego, Schoharie, and Chenango in Upstate New York.

The Delaware County Electric Cooperative has submitted two applications for your consideration. The first, a planning grant, requests $50,000 to conduct a comprehensive study about the requirements to develop a line-worker training center in Delaware County. The second, an implementation grant, requests $400,000 to develop training curriculum and acquire supplies for an advanced line-worker training program. Federal investment from ARC would allow DCEC to train hundreds of workers for good-paying, union jobs in Appalachian communities.

I am proud to have secured billions in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Law to strengthen and modernize America’s power grid. This historic investment will create and support high-quality American jobs building energy transmission lines, upgrading telecommunications infrastructure, and manufacturing clean energy technologies needed to power the economy. Therefore, it is crucial that targeted federal investments are made to support  collaborative, cross-sector workforce development solutions like that proposed by DCEC.

I applaud the Delaware County Electric Cooperative and their local partners for their foresight and sincerely hope the application is met with your approval. If you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact me or my grants coordinator at (202) 224-6542.