Palmer, Nov.15, 2018 – On Nov. 8, 2018 Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett announced that USDA is investing $1.6 billion in 46 rural electric utility infrastructure projects to improve electric reliability and resilience in 24 states.
“Reliable and affordable power is an underpinning for economic development and quality of life,” Hazlett said. “Under the leadership of Secretary Sonny Perdue, USDA is committed to being a strong partner in building prosperity in rural communities through the sustainment and modernization of rural electric infrastructure.”
The 46 projects announced are being funded through USDA’s Electric Program. These investments will help contribute to a stronger rural electric system by improving operations and reliability. USDA’s funding will help build or improve 5,833 miles of line. It includes $307 million in smart grid technologies, which improve system operations and monitor grid security. Alaska received one of these direct loans:
Nushagak Electric and Telephone Cooperative will use this Rural Development investment loan of $13,532,000 to improve two miles of line and add two 2.25 MW diesel generators to the existing 6.8 MW generation capacity, as well as make other system improvements such as a $30,000 investment in smart grid technologies. Nushagak Electric and Telephone Cooperative (NETC) provides electric, internet and cable TV services to several small Alaskan communities. NETC is isolated from other communities and has developed into a fully integrated electric utility that owns and operates its own generation to meet all power requirements. NETC serves 1,473 residential and commercial consumers using 95 miles of line. Nearly one-half of the world's sockeye salmon is caught in the Bristol Bay region over a season lasting less than two full months. This circumstance requires NETC has sufficient capacity and reliability to maintain a pronounced summer load.
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.