The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is embarking on a massive loan program to upgrade rural electric cooperative utilities. The improvements will include funding for smart grid technologies as well as improvements to generation and transmission facilities.
The $900 million in loans will go to 14 states and will help electric utilities upgrade, expand, maintain and replace rural America’s electric infrastructure. The funding will help build nearly 1,500 miles of line and improve more than 1,700 miles of existing line in rural areas, the Department of Agriculture said. More than $19 million will go to finance rural smart grid technologies.
According to USDA Secrectary Tom Vilsack, improvements to the power grid in outlying areas are crucial. “Rural electric cooperatives provide direct jobs and support economic growth in our rural communities,” he said. “By financing electrical system improvements, USDA and the Obama administration helps ensure sustainable growth and business job creation. Investments in smart grid technologies will give rural electric utilities and their consumers one more tool to better manage use of electricity, increase reliability and lower costs.”
States receiving funding are Delaware, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, Texas and South Dakota.