The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced an investment of $485m to upgrade rural electric systems and reduce energy costs in 13 states.

10Apr - USDA

Image: The Jamie L. Whitten Building in Washington D.C. is the USDA headquarters. Photo: Courtesy of Billy Hathorn/Wikipedia.

USDA said that the financing is provided through the electric loan program to improve rural electric infrastructure in Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas and Wisconsin.

The announcement was made by the USDA acting assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Joel Baxley, and the investment is expected to help build or improve a total of 4,240km line.

Baxley said: “Under the leadership of Agriculture Secretary Perdue, USDA is a proud partner to utilities and cooperatives delivering reliable, affordable power to rural communities. These loans will enhance rural economic development and help improve the quality of life for people who live and work in rural America.”

The funding includes approximately $7.1m for smart grid technologies that enahnce system operations and monitor grid security.

Under the funding program, South Dakota’s Northern Electric Cooperative is also provided with loan of $24.8m to build or improve 580km line, and Missouri’s Central Electric Power Cooperative with $72m loan to support electric distribution and transmission facilities.

The loan provided Northern Electric Cooperative includes $351,000 to integrate smart grid technologies like computer applications, two-way machine-to-machine communications, geospatial information systems and other tools to increase the reliability and efficiency of electric power systems.

Northern Electric operates over 4185km of line in 10 counties serving more than 6,300 consumers in northeastern South Dakota and one county in southern North Dakota.

The loan offered Missouri’s Central Electric Power Cooperative will help in making upgrades that are expected to supply peak loads, adapt to safety requirements and improve the reliability and resiliency of the transmission system.

Central Electric serves approximately 187,000 residential and business consumers across 35405km2 in 28 counties in central Missouri and is expected to build backup control center facilities to ensure the continuity of operations in situations of catastrophe.