U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Utilities Service Administrator Chad Rupe today announced that USDA is investing $181 million to upgrade rural electric systems in 10 states. The funding includes $7.7 million to finance smart grid technologies that improve system operations and monitor grid security.
“For more than eight decades, USDA has been a strong partner to rural communities in building and expanding electric infrastructure,” Rupe said. “Under the leadership of President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Perdue, USDA is committed to investing in essential infrastructure upgrades that improve the quality of life in rural communities and help grow the rural economy.”
USDA is providing financing for 12 projects in Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas and Wisconsin through the Electric Loan Program. The funding will help build and improve 1,354 miles of line to improve electric reliability and resilience in rural areas.
Among the loans announced today, the Coastal Electric Cooperative will receive $23 million to connect more than 3,900 consumers and build and improve 165 miles of line and invest $1.6 million for smart grid projects. Coastal serves approximately 19,700 customers in Georgia.
USDA will make additional funding announcements in coming weeks. Congress appropriated $5.5 billion for USDA’s Electric Loan Program in fiscal year 2019.
In April 2017, President Donald J. Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January 2018, Secretary Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings to President Trump. These findings included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America. Increasing investments in rural infrastructure is a key recommendation of the task force.
To view the report in its entirety, please view the Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity (PDF, 5.4 MB). In addition, to view the categories of the recommendations, please view the Rural Prosperity infographic (PDF, 190 KB).
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.