STEVENS POINT, Wis., Jan. 30, 2023 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development State Director for Wisconsin Julie Lassa today announced the Department is investing $19.4 million to help two electric cooperatives expand and modernize Wisconsin’s rural electric grid and increase grid security.
“These are exciting, long-term infrastructure investments that will help rural electric cooperatives and utilities build and improve their systems,” said Lassa. “Ultimately, this investment will strengthen opportunities in our rural communities while making the electric infrastructure more reliable and affordable for the residents and businesses who depend on it.” [Audio: Mp3, 477 KB, 20 seconds]
Below are some examples of how the funding will be used in Wisconsin:
- Oconto Electric Cooperative is receiving a $12.9 million loan to connect 614 consumers and build and improve 157 miles of line. This loan includes $325,000 in smart grid technologies. Oconto Electric is headquartered in Oconto Falls, Wisconsin and serves 10,068 consumers over 1,500 miles of line in five counties in northeastern Wisconsin.
- Chippewa Valley Electric Cooperative is receiving a $6.5 million loan to connect 573 consumers and build and improve 75 miles of line. This loan includes $424,700 in smart grid technologies. Chippewa Valley Electric is headquartered in Cornell, Wisconsin and serves 7,695 consumers over 1,262 miles of line in four counties in northern Wisconsin.
USDA is investing in 64 projects through the Electric Loan Program. This funding will benefit nearly 2 million rural people and businesses in Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.
The loans include $613 million to help rural utilities and cooperatives install and upgrade smart grid technologies. Smart grid can be a catalyst for broadband and other telecommunications services in unserved and underserved rural areas in addition to improving grid security and reliability.
In the coming months, USDA will announce additional energy infrastructure financing. The Biden-Harris Administration’s Inflation Reduction Act provided more than $12 billion to USDA for loans and grants to expand clean energy, transform rural power production, create jobs and spur economic growth. This funding will help make energy cleaner, more reliable and more affordable.
USDA’s Electric Loan Program can help finance wind, solar and natural gas plants, as well as improvements to produce cleaner energy from coal-fired plants. Local utilities also use the loans to invest in infrastructure to deliver affordable power to millions of residential, commercial, and agricultural consumers.
Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs, and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans 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, Tribal, and high-poverty areas. For more information, visit https://www.rd.usda.gov/wi.
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USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.