Trump Administration Invests $40 Million to Improve Rural Electric Infrastructure in Rural Minnesota & Wisconsin

Name
Nikki Gillespie
City
SAINT PAUL
Release Date
Aug 14, 2020

Investments to benefit nearly 1,000 Residents and Commercial Customers

SAINT PAUL, Minn., Aug. 14, 2020 – Minnesota State Director Brad Finstad and Wisconsin State Director Frank Frassetto announced today that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $371 million to build and improve critical electric infrastructure that will benefit more than 222,000 rural residents and commercial customers in 11 states.

“Electricity has long been a staple in our communities,” Finstad said. “So much so that we sometimes forget there are still rural areas in need of modernized infrastructure to continue that service. Thanks to the partnership with our Wisconsin counterparts and East Central Energy, nearly 1,000 rural Americans across Minnesota and Wisconsin will experience just that.”

East Central Energy in Braham, Minn., is receiving a $40 million loan to improve infrastructure, connect 960 consumers and build 200 miles of transmission and distribution line. The utility will use $5 million of the loan to invest in smart grid technologies to improve system communications for more than 60,000 customers through 8,376 miles of line in eleven counties in east central Minnesota and three counties in northwest Wisconsin.

 “Wisconsin is pleased to partner with our counterparts in Minnesota to improve electric infrastructure and connect more consumers in Burnett, Douglas and Washburn counties,” Frassetto said. “Under the leadership of President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Perdue, USDA continues to be a strong partner with rural communities, because we know that when rural America thrives, all of America thrives.”

Background:

USDA is investing in 10 projects through the Electric Loan Program. This funding will help build and improve 3,741 miles of line to improve electric reliability and resilience in rural areas in Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Dakota and Wisconsin. The loans include $80 million for investments in smart grid technology, which uses digital communications to detect and react to local changes in electricity usage.

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 in Minnesota, call 651-602-7800 or visit www.rd.usda.gov/mn. For more information in Wisconsin, call 715-345-7600, email rd-wi-stateoffice@usda.gov or visit www.rd.usda.gov/wi.

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