Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA is investing $236.3 million to help modernize and improve the reliability of rural electric systems in eight states.
"America's infrastructure must be modernized if we are to continue to create jobs, expand opportunity and be competitive in the global economy," Vilsack said. "Modernizing our nation's rural electric infrastructure will help better support economic development in rural areas while helping to ensure reliable and affordable electric service for people who live and work in small communities across the country."
Today's announcement includes nearly $20 million for smart grid improvements. Smart grid refers to the application of technologies designed to modernize our nation's electric system. These technologies increase the reliability of electric power by helping utilities better manage the electric grid, such as during peak demand, to improve operational efficiencies.
The loans announced today will build or improve more than 3,700 miles of line in rural areas. For example, the Southside Electric Cooperative in Crewe, Va., will receive a $40 million loan guarantee to build and improve more than 1,300 miles of line and make other system improvements. Sumter Electric Cooperative, in Sumterville, Fla., will build or improve 1,447 miles of line.
A modern, reliable electric system is critical to attract and retain residents and businesses to rural communities. USDA has a long history, dating back to the New Deal era, of working with rural utilities to help bring needed infrastructure and service improvements. Through the years, these investments have brought new economic and social opportunities and have enhanced the quality of life in the nation's rural communities.
The following is a complete list of loan recipients and projects receiving funding under today's announcement.