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USDA Announces Loans to Improve Rural Electric Infrastructure and Upgrade Energy Efficiency

Justin Wilkes
Release Date

    Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue 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,” Perdue 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. This funding will help build or improve 2,941 miles of line to improve electric reliability and resilience in rural areas, including two projects in Mississippi, announced by John Rounsaville, State Director for Rural Development in Mississippi.

   The Magnolia Electric Power Association received a loan of $40 million, which will be used to make system improvements.  These improvements include 303 miles of line and $4 million in smart grid technologies to increase system reliability.  This will benefit nearly 32,000 residential and business consumers across eight counties and 4,780 miles of line.

   The Natchez Trace Electric Power Association received a loan of $8,560,000 to be used to upgrade distribution and headquarters facilities to improve system efficiencies and resilience and meet customer needs.  This investment will benefit more than 15,800 customers over 2,100 miles of line across seven counties in north central Mississippi.

   “Both Magnolia Electric Power Association and Natchez Trace Electric Power Association are great organizations, and we are thrilled to make an investment like this that will support our electric cooperatives and provide reliable service to so many rural customers in Mississippi,” Rounsaville said.

   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.