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USDA announces funding for rural electric infrastructure

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Staff writer ▼ | April 21, 2015
US farm electricity
Rural America   Six rural electric projects

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced funding for six rural electric infrastructure projects, including three in North Carolina that will use solar energy.

"These solar projects represent an ongoing commitment from rural electric cooperatives to increase the diversity of their fuel sources with a focus on renewable energy," Vilsack said.

"For nearly 80 years, USDA's Electric Program has financed safe, reliable and affordable electricity to help strengthen rural economies, and we will continue to do so for years to come."

Secretary Vilsack announced $72 million in electric infrastructure investments today. This includes a $20 million loan to help Montgomery Solar Owner, LLC in Cornelius, N.C., build a 20 megawatt solar farm. Since 2009, USDA's Rural Utilities Service has provided $1.1 billion for 18 renewable projects. These projects include biomass and wind as well as solar.

"The importance of these investments should be lost on no one, especially as we celebrate Earth Day this week."

Vilsack also announced today that Chocowinity Solar, LLC and Cirrus Solar, LLC (both are based in Cornelius, N.C.) are each receiving $5 million loans to build 5 megawatt solar farms. Combined, the Chocowinity, Cirrus and Montgomery solar projects will generate 30 megawatts of power.

Today's announcement includes a $17 million loan to Rolling Hills Electric Cooperative, Inc. in Kansas to build or improve 197 miles of transmission and distribution line and make other system improvements. The loan includes $315,000 for smart grid projects.

Broad River Electric Cooperative, which serves rural customers in North and South Carolina, will receive an $18 million loan to build or improve 138 miles of line and make other system improvements. The loan includes $347,360 for smart grid projects.

In Vermont, the Washington Electric Cooperative, Inc. has been selected to receive a $7 million loan to build or improve 46 miles of line and make other system improvements. The loan includes $185,330 for smart grid projects.


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