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USDA invests in rural electric infrastructure

Staff Writer | August 25, 2017
Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett announced that USDA is providing loans to help cooperatives and utilities in 10 states improve and expand rural electric infrastructure.
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Rural America   Reliable electricity for rural areas
“Investing in electric infrastructure is critical to the success of businesses, residents and farmers in our small towns and rural areas,” Hazlett said.

“These loans will help provide reliable electricity to rural areas in more efficient and sustainable ways than ever before.”

The loans are being provided through USDA Rural Development’s Electric Program. They will support the construction and improvement of nearly 1,200 miles of transmission and distribution line in rural parts of Idaho, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Virginia and Wyoming.

Electric Program loans can make a significant difference in rural areas. In 2015, for example, the Jackson Electric Membership Corporation in Jefferson, Ga., used a $140 million loan to facilitate the expansion of the Kubota Manufacturing Plant of America’s facility in Gainesville, Ga. The improvements that USDA financed for Jackson’s Hagan Creek substation brought 650 jobs to Hall County.

Kubota makes lawn and garden mowers and tractors, and tractor implements such as backhoes and front loaders.

In 2014, North Carolina’s Roanoke Electric Membership Corporation used a $6 million loan to help its customers make energy efficiency improvements. The customers reduced their energy usage by 20 percent on average.

USDA is providing more than $200 million in infrastructure loans in today’s announcement. This includes $12 million for smart grid technologies.

Smart grid increases the reliability and efficiency of electric power by helping utilities better manage power needs and supply and improve operational efficiencies.

It includes metering, substation automation, computer applications, two-way communications, geospatial information systems and other improvements.