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During Infrastructure Week, Biden-Harris Administration Announces Projects to Strengthen Rural Infrastructure and Create Jobs Across South Carolina

Stephanie Bittiker
Columbia, S. C.
Release Date

Projects Will Help over 121,000 People Access Reliable Electricity and Create Smart Grid Technologies Throughout the State

COLUMBIA, S.C, May 14, 2024 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced the funding of three projects located in South Carolina, which will improve access to reliable electricity for more than 121,000 people and create good-paying jobs across the state. The announcement was made during President Biden's Infrastructure Week which highlights the progress the Biden-Harris Administration has made to improve American infrastructure through historic funding packages such as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act. 

The investments advance President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, a key pillar of Bidenomics, to grow the American economy from the middle out and bottom up.

“USDA is investing over $257 million in electric infrastructure funding for rural communities located in rural South Carolina,” stated USDA South Carolina Acting State Director George W. Hicks, Jr. “These critical investments will help create seamless smart grid electric networks and will help increase economic opportunities for people living and working in these rural communities.”

These projects were funded through the Electric Infrastructure Loan and Loan Guarantee Program to help utility providers and electric cooperatives build and improve electric infrastructure, smart-grid technologies and renewable energy systems.

These projects will help ensure everyone in rural areas has access to reliable electricity to increase economic opportunity and quality of life:

  • Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative Inc. will use funding to connect 8,480 consumers and build and improve 586 miles of line. Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative Inc. is headquartered in Pickens and has a district office located in Westminster, South Carolina. The co-op provides electric services to an average of 70,160 members through 7,279 miles of line in Anderson, Greenville, Oconee, Pickens, and Spartanburg counties located in northwest South Carolina. This loan includes $51,871,000 in smart grid technologies including the installation of 978 miles of fiber cable.
  • Aiken Electric Cooperative will use funding to connect 3,588 consumers, build and improve 192 miles of line, and construct headquarter facilities. Aiken Electric is headquartered in Aiken, South Carolina serving an average of 50,951 members through 5,679 miles of distribution line in parts of Barnwell, Calhoun, Edgefield, Greenwood, Lexington, McCormick, Orangeburg, Saluda, and Aiken counties in South Carolina. This loan includes $14,500,723 in smart grid technologies.
  • Haywood EMC will use funding to connect 919 consumers and build 70 miles of line. Haywood Electric is headquartered in Waynesville, North Carolina and provides electric service to an average of 28,299 members through 3,013 miles of distribution line. This line will run through portions of Buncombe, Haywood, Jackson, Macon, Madison, and Transylvania counties in North Carolina; Oconee County in South Carolina; and Raybun County in the state of Georgia. 

Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA 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 healthcare; and high-speed internet access in rural, Tribal, and high-poverty areas. Visit the Rural Data Gateway to learn how and where these investments are impacting rural America. 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, 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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USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.