Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced more than $1.8 billion in funding for electric utility infrastructure projects in 25 states and one territory to improve service for more than 37,000 rural customers. The projects include more than $45 million for smart grid technology, $73 million for renewable energy projects and over $213 million targeted to benefit Native Americans. This funding will build or improve more than 6,500 miles of line to deliver electricity to rural America.
“Rural electric cooperatives have provided reliable, affordable power to rural communities for more than 75 years. Today’s investments will help ensure our electric infrastructure continues to deliver reliable and affordable electricity for years to come,” Vilsack said. “This funding is part of the Obama Administration’s vision for a new rural energy economy and USDA’s commitment to creating economic opportunity in rural America. Investments in smart grid technologies will continue to modernize our nation’s electric system and improve operational efficiencies.”
Today’s funding announcement is provided through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Utilities Service Program.
In South Dakota, Lake Region Electric Association based in Webster, will receive a loan of $9.7 million to serve 181 consumers, build 159 miles of distribution lines, and make of the system improvements. The loan amount includes $1,977,826 for smart grid projects and $194,000 for service to Native Americans. Oahe Electric Cooperative Inc. based in Blunt, will receive a loan of $4.9 million to serve 292 consumers, build 78 miles of distribution lines, and make other system improvements. The loan amount includes $1,039,347 for smart grid projects and $21,575 for service to Native Americans.
South Dakota is part of USDA’s StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity which leverages community resources in persistent poverty areas in targeted states.
Secretary Vilsack said that today’s announcement is another reminder of the importance of USDA programs rural America. A comprehensive new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill would further expand the rural economy, Vilsack added, saying that’s just one reason why Congress must get a comprehensive Bill done as soon as possible.
Look here for a list of rural electric utilities that will receive USDA funding, contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the loan agreement.
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.