U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $1.4 billion in projects in 21 states to build and improve rural electric infrastructure.
“Modern and reliable electric infrastructure has been a cornerstone to rural prosperity since the Rural Electrification Act of 1936,” Secretary Perdue said. “This funding we are providing is critical to rural communities and reflects President Trump’s commitment to increasing prosperity across all of rural America. When rural America thrives, all of America thrives.”
USDA is providing financing through the Electric Loan Program. It will help build and improve 6,886 miles of line to strengthen reliability in rural areas. The loans include $255.8 million for investments in smart grid infrastructure that uses digital communications technology to detect and react to local changes in electricity usage.
“This quarter-of-a-billion dollar investment in rural electric and communications infrastructure is the most significant improvement Michigan has seen in decades,” said USDA State Director for Michigan Jason Allen. “The benefits will be felt from the Straits of Mackinac to our southern border. It truly is a game-changer for rural Michigan.”
Great Lakes Energy Cooperative will use a $188 million loan to build and improve 388 miles of distribution line and connect 4,166 customers. These new miles of line include the installation of 1,850 miles of fiber and 6,200 connections. The loan includes funds to install fiber-based smart grid communications to increase system efficiencies. Great Lakes provides electric service to approximately 125,447 customers over more than 14,451 miles of line in 26 counties in the western portion of Michigan's Lower Peninsula.
Midwest Energy Cooperative will use a $63.75 million loan to build and improve 1,193 miles of distribution line, and connect 1,160 customers. The new miles of line include 988 miles of fiber backbone for smart grid communications improvements across the electric operating system, including upgrades to metering and grid management systems. Midwest Energy Cooperative serves approximately 36,000 customers over 4,240 miles of line in seven counties in southeast and southwest Michigan, three counties in northern Indiana and two counties in northern Ohio.
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.