Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Funding for Projects to Boost Rural Electric Grid Efficiency and Reliability
Funding targets more than $15 million for Smart Grid Projects
WASHINGTON, June 12, 2013 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced funding for rural electric projects in 16 states to provide reliable, affordable electricity for rural residents, including improved service for Native Americans. USDA remains focused on carrying out its mission, despite a time of significant budget uncertainty. Today's announcement is one part of the Department's efforts to strengthen the rural economy.
"USDA funding for rural electric utilities not only improves service to customers, it makes the grid more efficient and reliable and encourage investment, business development and job creation in rural communities," Vilsack said.
USDA's support for rural electric utilities benefits more than 8.5 million rural electric consumers annually. Smart grid technology further increases the efficiency and reliability of the rural electric system. Since 2011, rural electric cooperatives have used USDA funding to invest nearly $560 million in smart grid improvements.
Today's announcement includes more than $356 million in loans to upgrade rural electric services, including more than $15 million in smart grid funding. The funding announced today will help finance the construction of more than 2,400 miles of new or improved electric line.
One of the utilities that will receive funding is Western Farmers Electric Cooperative, Inc., in Anadarko, Okla. It was selected to receive an $82.4 million guaranteed loan to build or improve 78 miles of transmission line, two substations, and make other system improvements. Additionally, the loan includes $4.5 million for smart grid projects. The funding will benefit customers in Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico and Texas.
Projects planned by Beltrami Electric Cooperative Association