RALEIGH, North Carolina- Jan. 31, 2023 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the Department is investing $235 million to help seven North Carolina electric cooperatives and utilities expand and modernize the states 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.”
Below are some examples of how the funding will be used:
- Serving Carteret, Craven and Jones counties; the Carteret-Craven Electric Membership Cooperative, in Newport, is receiving a $28 million loan to connect 3,115 consumers and build and improve 132 miles of line. The loan includes $169,437 for smart grid technologies. Carteret-Craven Electric serves 41,655 consumers through 2,493 miles of line in four counties.
- Serving Alamance, Chatham, Davidson, Montgomery, Moore and Randolph counties; Randolph Electric Membership Cooperative, in Asheboro, is receiving a $32 million loan to connect 2,115 consumers, and build and improve 426 miles of line. This loan includes $2,155,546 in smart grid technologies. Randolph Electric serves 32,747 customers over 4,412 miles in six counties.
- Serving Burke, Catawba, Caldwell, Cleveland, Gaston, Lincoln, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk and Rutherford and counties; Rutherford Electric Membership Cooperative, in Forest City, is receiving a $38 million loan to connect 4,970 consumers, and build 155 miles of line. Rutherford EMC serves an average of 73,148 customers over 7,574 miles in 10 counties.
- Serving Dare County, Cape Hatteras Electric Membership Cooperative, in Buxton, is receiving a $19 million loan to connect 674 consumers, and build and improve 15 miles of line and transmission system upgrades. This loan includes $725,995 in smart grid technologies. Cape Hatteras EMC serves 7,925 consumers over 355 miles of line on Hatteras Island, in Dare County, along North Carolina's Outer Banks.
- Serving Cleveland, Polk and Rutherford counties; Broad River Electric Cooperative, in Gaffney, South Carolina, is receiving a $20 million loan to connect 2,600 consumers, and build and improve 110 miles of line. This loan includes $2,692,694 in smart grid technologies. Broad River Electric serves 23,206 consumers over 2,702 miles in Cherokee, Newberry, Spartanburg and Union counties in South Carolina as well as three counties, in North Carolina.
- Serving Buncombe, Madison, Mitchell and Yancey counties; French Broad Electric Membership Cooperative, in Marshall, is receiving a $45 million loan to connect 4,138 consumers, and build and improve 373 miles of line. This loan includes $1,911,500 in smart grid technologies. French Broad EMC serves an average 39,513 consumers through 6,764 miles of line through four counties in western North Carolina and two counties in eastern Tennessee.
- Serving Granville, Northampton, Person, Warren, and Vance counties; Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative, in Chase City, Virginia, will use a $53 million loan to connect 1,797 consumers and build and improve 316 miles of line. This loan includes various smart grid projects in the amount of $6,129,700 including the installation of 40 miles of fiber cable to improve reliability and grid communications. Mecklenburg Electric provides service to 31,728 consumers over 4,511 miles of line in nine counties in south central Virginia and five counties in north central North Carolina.
“USDA Rural Development is in a unique position to help rural communities build, maintain and improve electric infrastructure, said Rural Development State Director Reginald Speight. “These investments support the local economy by making rural communities attractive, economically viable and safe places to live and work. This helps create and save jobs by attracting and retaining employers and workers.”
USDA is investing in 64 projects in 26 states through the Electric Loan Program. This funding will benefit nearly 2 million rural people and businesses in Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.
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.
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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