USDA Announces Investments to Improve Rural Electric Infrastructure and Increase Grid Resilience

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United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development State Director for Minnesota Brad Finstad today announced nearly $75 million in rural electric utility infrastructure projects to improve electric reliability and resilience for more than 60,000 customers across Minnesota.

   “Modern infrastructure is the cornerstone of rural prosperity,” Finstad said. “Under the leadership of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Assistant Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett, USDA is dedicated to its partnerships with rural electric cooperatives and help provide reliable and affordable power to rural communities.”

   South Central Electric Association will use a $10 million loan to build 23 miles of line, improve 42 miles and make other system improvements, including $2.8 million for smart grid technologies. South Central Electric provides service to approximately 5,810 consumers over more than 2,400 miles of line across eight counties.

   Lyon-Lincoln Electric Cooperative will use a $7,037,000 loan to build 24 miles of line, improve 45 miles and make other system improvements, including an investment of $285,000 for smart grid technologies. Lyon-Lincoln Electric serves nearly 4,000 residential business consumers over 1,666 miles of line.

   Agralite Cooperative is receiving a $14,712,000 loan to build eight miles of line, improve 70 miles and make other system improvements, including nearly $2.7 million in smart grid technologies. Agralite serves more than 5,200 residential and commercial consumers over 2,428 miles of line. The service territory is primarily rural with a focus on farming, recreation and commercial industry that includes an ethanol plant, commercial dairy farm and turkey production facility.

   Co-op Light & Power Association of Lake County will use a $5,670,000 loan to build 35 miles of line, improve 12 miles and make other system improvements, including an investment of $439,278 in smart grid technologies. Located in Two Harbors, Minn., and energized in 1936, the Co-op Light & Power Association serves more than 6,000 residential and commercial consumers in the northeastern, Arrowhead region of the state. Tourism, timber and mining are the major industries in the service territory, which also serves four state parks, a national forest and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

   Minnesota Valley Electric Cooperative is receiving a $31 million loan to build 83 miles of line, improve 122 miles and make other system improvements, including nearly $1.6 million in smart grid technologies. Minnesota Valley Electric serves 42,000 residents over 968 square miles.

   Finstad’s announcement is in coordination with the $1.6 billion in 46 projects, recently announced by Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett, to improve electric reliability and resilience in 24 states.  

   Funding is being provided through USDA’ Electric Program and 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.  

   Examples of projects funded in other states, include:

  • In Ohio, South Central Power Cooperative will use a $124 million loan to add 144 miles of line, improve 205 miles of line, and make other system improvements, including a $24 million investment in smart grid technologies. South Central Power is the largest rural electric distribution cooperative in Ohio. It serves more than 119,000 residential and commercial consumers southeast of Columbus. The service territory is very rural, heavily wooded and economically diverse. Agricultural production is among the major contributors to the economy in the service territory.

  • Minnkota Power Cooperative will use a $67.4 million loan to finance generation and transmission improvements. Minnkota is a regional generation and transmission cooperative, serving 11 distribution electric cooperatives that provide electric services to portions of 20 counties in eastern North Dakota and 17 counties in northwestern Minnesota. The service territory is approximately 35,000 square miles and has a population of 300,000.

  • Georgia Transmission Corporation (GTC) will use a $93.9 million loan to finance transmission improvement projects that serve more than 1.8 million consumers. GTC supplies transmission service to 38 of the state’s 41 electric membership cooperatives. It owns and maintains approximately 3,410 miles of transmission line and is the largest cooperative-owned transmission system in the United States.

   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.

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Last Modified: 11/08/2018