U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Donald “DJ” LaVoy has announced that USDA is investing $251 million to upgrade rural electric systems in 13 states. The funding includes $38.2 million to finance smart grid technologies that improve system operations and monitor grid security.
“Under the leadership of President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Perdue, USDA continues to be a strong, effective partner to rural communities in building, expanding and modernizing electric infrastructure,” LaVoy said. “These investments in essential electric grid upgrades help to improve the quality of life in rural communities, create rural jobs and strengthen America’s economy.”
USDA Rural Development State Director Timothy P. Hobbs said, “The installation of these solar projects will result in clean renewable energy that will power wastewater infrastructure at two municipal districts, benefiting customers in central and northern rural Maine communities.”
In Maine, Aligned Solar Partners 1, LLC will use a $1.75 million loan to finance a pair of 1 megawatt solar projects in Aroostook and Kennebec counties. The electricity generated will be sold to two rural municipal water and sewer districts Limestone Water and Sewer District, and Kennebec Sanitary Treatment District. This loan is an example of the ways in which USDA coordinates assistance through multiple programs – in this case the Electric and Water and Wastewater Programs.
USDA is providing financing through the Electric Loan Program for a total of 12 projects that will serve rural areas in Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming. The funding will help build and improve 1,971 miles of line to improve electric reliability in rural areas.
USDA will make additional funding announcements in coming weeks. USDA had $5.5 billion nationwide available for Electric Program loans in fiscal year 2019.
USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.