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USDA Announces Investments to Improve Rural Electric Infrastructure

Weldon Freeman
Washington, D.C.
Release Date


More than 7 million customers will benefit from improved or new service

Electric co-ops in Clayton and Grants, NM to get funding

   Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett today 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 today 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.  These investments, such as the ones listed below, will benefit 7 million rural business and residential electric consumers across the country.

  • Rural Development is investing funds to the Southwestern Electric Cooperative based in Clayton, New Mexico to build 34 miles of line, improve another 18 miles of line and make system improvements, including nearly $893,000 for smart grid technologies. Southwestern provides electric power to 2,359 residential and commercial consumers over 1,953 miles of line in seven counties in three states. Five of these counties are classified as outmigration areas. Commercial consumers include grain bins, ice plants, a large petroleum and natural gas exploration and production corporation, and a prison.

  • Another Rural Development investment will be used to build 73 miles of line and improve an additional 83 miles of line serving the 24,000 consumers who get their electricity from the Continental Divide Electric cooperative based in Grants, New Mexico. The other portions of the co-op’s 8,500-mile service territory will also see additional system improvements, including over $17 million in smart grid technologies. Nearly one-half of the service territory is held in trust by the federal government and includes national forests, national monuments and tribal areas. Continental Divide also provides service to three agencies on the Eastern Navajo Reservation at Crownpoint, the Navaho agency at Ramah and the Canoncito Agency.

    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.