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Secretary Vilsack Announces Funding to Improve Rural Electric Service for Customers in 12 States

Press Release

By:
Date:
Location: New Orleans, LA

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that rural electric cooperatives and utilities in 12 states will receive loan guarantees to improve generation and transmission facilities and implement smart grid technologies. The announcement was made on the Secretary's behalf by USDA Rural Utilities Acting Administrator John Padalino during the annual meeting of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association in New Orleans.

"In his State of the Union Address last week, President Obama said that in America we have 'an aging infrastructure badly in need of repair' and these investments help to address our country's infrastructure challenges," Padalino said. "Upgrading rural infrastructure sets the stage for economic development, because access to reliable, affordable electricity is essential to rural job creation."

Today's announcement includes support for more than $8 million in smart grid technologies, which help utilities make efficiency improvements to the electric grid and help consumers lower their electric bills by reducing energy use in homes and businesses.

One of the utilities selected for funding is North Dakota's Central Power Electric Cooperative. It plans to use a $33.7 million loan guarantee to build 141 miles of transmission line and make other system improvements. Kansas' Flint Hills Rural Electric Cooperative Association will receive an $11 million loan guarantee to build 108 miles of distribution line. The loan includes $220,000 in smart grid projects.

In Oklahoma, the Cotton Electric Cooperative won a $24.8 million loan guarantee to build 229 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The loan includes $1.3 million in smart grid projects.

The following is a complete list of rural utilities that will receive USDA funding, which is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the loan agreement.

Alabama

Wiregrass Electric Cooperative, Inc. -- $13,900,000. Funds will be used to build 135 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The loan includes $100,452 in smart grid projects.
Pea River Electric Cooperative, Inc. -- $21,500,000. Funds will be used to build 137 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements.
Alaska

Kotzebue Electric Association, Inc. -- $2,900,000. Funds will be used to build 10 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements.
Colorado

Southeast Colorado Power Association -- $8,202,000. Funds will be used to build 133 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The loan includes $600,000 in smart grid projects.
Florida

Withlacoochee River Electric Cooperative, Inc. -- $80,000,000. Funds will be used to build 104 miles of distribution line, 4 miles of transmission line, and make other system improvements. The loan amount includes $1,340,000 for smart grid projects.
Georgia

Sumter Electric Membership Corporation -- $12,500,000. Funds will be used to build 437 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The loan amount includes $500,000 for smart grid projects.
Kansas

Flint Hills Rural Electric Cooperative Association, Inc. -- $11,000,000. Funds will be used to build 108 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The loan includes $22,000 in smart grid projects.
The Brown Atchison Electric Cooperative Association -- $5,100,000. Funds will be used to build 53 miles of distribution line and 5 miles of transmission line, and make other system improvements.
Kentucky

Farmers Rural Electric Cooperative Corporation -- $17,582,000. Funds will be used to build 327 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The loan amount includes $412,541 for smart grid projects.
Minnesota

Runestone Electric Association -- $22,000,000. Funds will be used to build 82 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The loan amount includes $379,100 for smart grid projects.
North Dakota

Burke-Divide Electric Cooperative, Inc. -- $7,700,000. Funds will be used to build 106 miles of distribution line, 20 miles of transmission line and make other system improvements. The loan includes $549,994 in smart grid projects.
Central Power Electric Cooperative, Inc. -- $33,733,000. Funds will be used to build 141 miles of transmission line and make other system improvements.
Oklahoma

Cotton Electric Cooperative, Inc. -- $24,850,000. Funds will be used to build 229 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The loan includes $1,300,000 in smart grid projects.
South Dakota

West Central Electric Cooperative, Inc. -- $10,125,000. Funds will be used to build 46 miles of distribution line, 14 miles of transmission line and make other system improvements. The loan includes $314,487 in smart grid projects.
South Dakota and North Dakota

Northern Electric Cooperative -- $20,388,000. Funds will be used to build 303 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The loan includes $902,512 in smart grid projects.
Texas

Bowie-Cass Electric Cooperative, Inc. -- $38,532,000. Funds will be used to build 562 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The loan amount includes $672,875 for smart grid projects.
The $330 million in loan guarantees announced today are provided by USDA's Rural Utilities Service. The funding helps electric utilities upgrade, expand, maintain and replace rural America's electric infrastructure. USDA also funds energy conservation and renewable energy projects.

Since taking office, the Obama Administration has taken significant steps to improve the lives of rural Americans and has provided broad support for rural communities. The Obama Administration has set goals of modernizing infrastructure by providing broadband access to 10 million Americans, expanding educational opportunities for students in rural areas and providing affordable health care. In the long term, these unparalleled rural investments will help ensure that America's rural communities are repopulating, self-sustaining and thriving economically.

USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an active portfolio of more than $176 billion in loans and loan guarantees. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural areas.


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