WASHINGTON, Jan. 30, 2023 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the Department is investing $2.7 billion to help 64 electric cooperatives and utilities expand and modernize the nation’s rural electric grid and increase grid security.
“These critical investments will benefit rural people and businesses in many ways for decades to come,” Vilsack said. “This funding will help rural cooperatives and utilities invest in changes that make our energy more efficient, more reliable, and more affordable. Investing in infrastructure – roads, bridges, broadband and energy – supports good-paying jobs and keeps the United States poised to lead the global economy.”
“We’ve seen how important it is to modernize infrastructure to ensure rural areas have access to reliable service, particularly during inclement weather,” said Dr. Trina N. George, State Director for USDA Rural Development in Mississippi. “Investments like these not only keep these communities safe, but also reduce their costs and improve the local economy.”
USDA is investing in 64 projects through the Electric Loan Program. This funding will benefit nearly 2 million rural people and businesses.
The loans include $613 million to help rural utilities and cooperatives install and upgrade smart grid technologies. Smart grid can be a catalyst for broadband and other telecommunications services in unserved and underserved rural areas in addition to improving grid security and reliability.
Nearly half of the awards will help finance infrastructure improvements in underserved communities.
Below are some examples of how the funding will be used in Mississippi:
- The Southwest Mississippi Electric Power Association will use a Rural Development investment of $33,0770,000 to connect 3,397 consumers and build and improve 248 miles of line. This loan includes $3,618,360 in smart grid technologies. Southwest Mississippi Electric is headquartered in Lorman, Mississippi and serves 25,516 consumers over 4,213 miles of line in nine counties.
- The Singing River Electric Power Association will use a Rural Development investment of $125,000,000 million to connect 13,191 consumers and build and improve 770 miles of line. This loan includes $19,174,940 in smart grid technologies. Singing River Electric Power Association is headquartered in Lucedale, Mississippi, and serves 77,164 members over 7,629 miles of line in George, Greene, Harrison, Jackson, Perry, Stone, Wayne counties in the state of Mississippi, as well as parts of Mobile and Washington counties in the state of Alabama.
In the coming months, USDA will announce additional energy infrastructure financing. The Biden-Harris Administration’s Inflation Reduction Act provided more than $12 billion to USDA for loans and grants to expand clean energy, transform rural power production, create jobs and spur economic growth. This funding will help make energy cleaner, more reliable and more affordable.
USDA’s Electric Loan Program can help finance wind, solar and natural gas plants, as well as improvements to produce cleaner energy from coal-fired plants. Local utilities also use the loans to invest in infrastructure to deliver affordable power to millions of residential, commercial and agricultural consumers.
Under the Biden-Harris Administration, Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans 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, Tribal and high-poverty areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.
USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, promoting competition and fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate-smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.
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