Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $398.5 million (PDF, 105 KB) to improve rural electric service in 13 states.
“Reliable and affordable electricity is undeniably a necessity in today’s world,” Hazlett said. “Under the leadership of Secretary Sonny Perdue, USDA is committed to being a strong partner in keeping our rural communities connected to this essential infrastructure.”
USDA is making the investments through the Electric Infrastructure Loan Program. Below are a few examples of the projects USDA is funding:
- In Virginia, Southside Electric Cooperative will use a $47.7 million loan to add 2,578 customers, build 136 miles of line and make other system improvements. The loan amount includes $269,536 for smart grid projects. Southside, headquartered in Crewe, has approximately 8,250 miles of power line that provides service to 56,000 customers in 18 counties and one independent city in south central Virginia. Its customers are within commuting distance to the Richmond, Petersburg, Charlottesville, Lynchburg and Roanoke areas. Southside serves predominantly residential loads and a small percentage of large commercial loads, including a correctional facility, a meat processing plant, pipeline companies, a bearing manufacturing facility and several facilities engaged in the production of forestry products.
- In Indiana, Marshall County REMC is receiving a $9.5 million loan to build 11 miles of line, improve 59 miles and make other system improvements. The loan amount includes $5,130,130 for smart grid projects. Marshall County provides electric service to 7,200 customers over 1,070 miles of line in Elkhart, Fulton, Kosciusko, Marshall, St. Joseph and Starke counties in northern Indiana. The economy of the service territory has historically relied on agriculture and agriculture-related industries.
- In Colorado, San Miguel Power Association will use an $11 million loan to build 205 miles of line, improve 47 miles and make other system improvements. The loan amount includes $571,654 for smart grid projects. San Miguel is headquartered in Nucla. It serves 13,473 customers through 3,800 miles of line in Dolores, Hinsdale, Mesa, Montrose, Ouray, San Juan and Miguel counties.
These projects will help improve the quality of life in rural communities in Arkansas, Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia.
The investments USDA is making today include nearly $43.7 million for smart grid technology to increase system efficiencies. Smart grid includes computer applications, two-way machine-to-machine communications, geospatial information systems and other tools to increase the reliability and efficiency of electric power systems.
The Department’s support for rural cooperatives and utilities underscores Secretary Perdue’s priority to promote rural economic development by centering around three principles: infrastructure, partnerships and innovation. Investing in electric infrastructure has increased productivity and improved the quality of life in rural areas for nearly 80 years.
In April 2017, President Donald J. Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January 2018, Secretary Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings to President Trump. These findings included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America. Increasing investments in rural infrastructure is a key recommendation of the task force.