United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development State Director for Minnesota Brad Finstad today announced more than $130 million in loans to upgrade rural electric systems across Minnesota. Funding includes nearly $22.5 million to finance smart grid technologies that improve system operations and monitor grid security.
“President Trump and the United States Department of Agriculture are pursuing an unprecedented commitment to rebuild America’s infrastructure, including a special emphasis on rural communities,” said Finstad. “This funding will improve the reliability of the electric transmission system for more than 100,000 rural Minnesotans and is an excellent illustration of the Agency’s pledge to modernize and expand rural infrastructure.”
For example, the Traverse Electric Cooperative is receiving a $5,006,000 loan to build and improve electric grid reliability and security for 51 miles of transmission and distribution line. Traverse will use $625,000 of the loan to invest in smart grid technologies, improving system communications for nearly 3,000 customers across South Dakota, North Dakota and Minnesota.
Lake Country Power covering eight counties in northeastern, Minn., is receiving a $52 million loan to finance 1,400 new customer connections and to improve electric grid reliability and security for 249 miles of transmission and distribution line. Lake Country will use $17 million of the loan to invest in smart grid technologies to improve system communications for 49,000 customers across 8,319 miles.
In southeastern, Minn., the People’s Energy Cooperative is receiving a $36 million loan to build or improve 306 miles transmission line. People’s Energy will use $800,000 for smart grid technologies to improve system efficiencies and resilience for their nearly 23,000 residential and commercial consumers across six counties.
Stearns Cooperative Electric Association headquartered in Melrose, Minn., is receiving nearly $41 million to build and improve 280 miles of electric infrastructure. Stearns Cooperative will use $3.3 million for smart grid technologies to improve system efficiencies and improve system communications for more than 26,000 consumers across 4,127 miles of line throughout Morrison, Pope, Kandiyohi, Todd, Stearns and Douglas Counties.
Finstad’s announcement is in coordination with the recent announcement made by Acting Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Joel Baxley that USDA is providing $858 million in loans to upgrade rural electric systems in 17 states through the Electric Loan Program: Arkansas, Arizona, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia and West Virginia. The funding includes $64 million to finance smart grid technologies that improve 3,741 miles of line for electric reliability and resilience in rural areas.
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/mn.