Acting Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Joel Baxley today announced that USDA is providing $858 million in loans to upgrade rural electric systems in 17 states. The funding includes $64 million to finance smart grid technologies that improve system operations and monitor grid security.
“Investing in our nation’s electric infrastructure powers our economy, creates jobs and helps deliver services such as education, training and health care to build stronger rural communities,” Baxley said. “These loans will help rural electric cooperatives generate and distribute power to keep systems reliable and affordable for those who live and work in rural areas.”
USDA is investing in 17 projects through the Electric Loan Program in Arkansas, Arizona, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia and West Virginia. This funding will help build and improve 3,741 miles of line to improve electric reliability and resilience in rural areas.
In Georgia, the Blue Ridge Mountain Electric Membership Corp. will receive $38,969,000 to build and improve 277 miles of line, connecting 2,370 customers. The EMC serves 52,759 customers with over 6,194 miles of line in Fannin, Gilmer, Towns and Union counties in Georgia and Cherokee and Clay counties in North Carolina.
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.