Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced funding for projects in 18 states to improve electric service to business and residential consumers in rural areas. The $540 million in loan guarantees to fund these projects are made available through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) rural utilities program. They include more than $35 million for smart grid projects to improve rural electric system communications technology.
"Electric reliability is a critical component of the success of our rural economy. Today's loans will help continue to ensure the safety, reliability and affordability of electric service in rural areas," Vilsack said. "This funding is part of the Obama Administration's vision for a new rural energy economy. Investments in smart grid technologies help rural electric cooperatives improve system operations to meet the needs of rural customers."
In Louisiana, Rural Development will finance more than $200 million in loan guarantees to build or improve approximately 642 miles of line and finance more than $2.3 million in smart grid technologies. Southwest Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation will receive $35 million to finance more than 400 miles of line and $5.4 million in smart grid technologies.
Awards for the 2014 rural electric loan recipients are contingent upon the recipients meeting the terms of the loan agreement.
The Obama Administration has invested more than $28 billion in rural electric infrastructure nationwide since 2009.
President Obama's plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President's leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way -- strengthening America's economy, small towns and rural communities.
USDA's investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values. President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Vilsack are committed to a smarter use of Federal resources to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities.