USDA financing is aimed at building and improving 2,743 miles (4,414km) of transmission line to support the reliability in rural areas


The USDA headquarters in Washington D.C. (Credit: Wikipedia/Billy Hathorn)

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) will invest $900m to build, preserve or improve rural electric infrastructure across 16 states in the US.

The federal agency said that the financing is provided under the Electric Loan Program, and is aimed at building and improving 2,743 miles (4,414km) of transmission line to support the reliability in rural areas and benefit rural residents and businesses.

USDA Deputy Secretary Stephen Censky said: “Rural electric cooperatives have been the champions of rural electric infrastructure, the lifeblood of America’s heartland, in every state across the country since the Rural Electrification Administration’s efforts in the 1930s.

“Under the leadership of President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Perdue, USDA is committed to continuing this strong and critical partnership to increase prosperity across rural America, because when rural America thrives, all of America thrives.”

The loans include $17m for investments in smart grid technology that features digital communications for detection and react to local changes in electricity usage.

USDA funding details

Out of the total $900m, East Kentucky Power Cooperative will be awarded a $347m loan to improve the generation system for enhanced system reliability.  Brunswick Electric Membership will get $78m loan, which includes $3.5m for smart grid technologies.

Brunswick serves more than 93,000 customers, through a 6,814 miles (10,966km) line in Bladen, Brunswick, Columbus and Robeson counties in southeastern North Carolina.

The Little River Electric Cooperative, which serves 14,257 customers in Abbeville, Anderson, Greenwood and McCormick counties, will be awarded a $16m loan to build and improve 142 miles (228km) of line, and the project includes $3.4m investment in smart grid technologies.

Under the current USDA investment, states including Arkansas, California, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota and Virginia, will receiving funding.