The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has agreed to provide $398.5m in loans to improve rural electric infrastructure across 13 states.
Made through the Electric Infrastructure Loan Program, the investment from the USDA will be used for projects in Arkansas, Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia.
USDA is investing nearly $43.7m in smart grid technology to increase system efficiencies. The smart grid technology will include computer applications, two-way machine-to-machine communications, geospatial information systems and other tools to increase the reliability and efficiency of electric power systems.
Under the USDA’s investment program, Southside Electric Cooperative in Virginia will receive $47.7m loan to build 218.8km of line and make other system improvements. This loan includes $26.9m for smart grid projects.
Marshall County REMC in Indiana will receive $9.5m loan to build 17.7km of line, improve 95km and make other system improvements. The loan will include $5.13m for smart grid projects.
San Miguel Power Association from Colorado will receive $11m loan to build 330km of line, improve 75.6km and make other system improvements. The loan will include $5.71m for smart grid projects.
USDA Rural Development Secretary’s Assistant Anne Hazlett “Reliable and affordable electricity is undeniably a necessity in today’s world.
“Under the leadership of Secretary Sonny Perdue, USDA is committed to being a strong partner in keeping our rural communities connected to this essential infrastructure.”
As per the Department, the support for rural cooperatives and utilities underscores Secretary Perdue’s priority to promote rural economic development by centering around three principles that include infrastructure, partnerships and innovation.
The announcement follows USDA’s investment in August, where it agreed to provide $345.5m to improve rural electric infrastructure across 14 states including California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
In June, the USDA stated that it would invest $309m in 16 projects across 12 states in the country to improve rural electric infrastructure.