Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $345.5 million in 20 infrastructure projects to improve rural electric service in 14 states.
“Delivering reliable and affordable electricity to power rural America will help lay the groundwork for increased rural prosperity and economic opportunity,” Secretary Perdue said. “USDA is partnering with rural electric utilities and cooperatives so they can continue to invest in infrastructure improvements to provide electric power to those who live and work in rural areas.”
USDA is making the investments through the Electric Infrastructure Loan Program. It helps finance generation, transmission and distribution projects; system improvements; and energy conservation projects in communities with 10,000 or fewer residents.
The loans include $7.9 million for smart grid technology. This includes computer applications, two-way communications, geospatial information systems and other tools to increase the reliability and efficiency of electric power systems. Below are a few examples of the projects USDA is funding:
In Oklahoma, Red River Valley Rural Electric Association will use a $16.3 million loan to build 30 miles of line, improve 57 miles and make other system improvements. The loan amount includes $680,758 for smart grid projects. Red River is headquartered in Marietta, Oklahoma with 2,732 total energized miles servicing an area of approximately 15,888 customers in all or portions of Carter, Jefferson, Johnston, Love and Marshall counties in south central Oklahoma.
Minnesota’s Goodhue County Electric Cooperative Association will use a $7.75 million loan to construct 28 miles of line and improve 72 miles. The loan includes $315,000 for smart grid projects. Goodhue’s service territory is predominantly agricultural. Most non-farm employment is associated with agricultural and food processing activities.
In Georgia, Amicalola Electric Membership Corporation will use a $61.2 million loan to build 302 miles of line and improve 110 miles. The loan includes $64,000 for smart grid projects. Agriculture and tourism are the major industries in Amicalola’s service territory.
USDA is announcing investments today in rural communities in California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and Wisconsin. They underscore Secretary Perdue’s priority to promote rural economic development by centering around three principles: infrastructure, partnerships and innovation.
USDA’s investments in electric infrastructure have increased productivity and improved the quality of life in rural areas for nearly 80 years.
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 services such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.