Funding Includes Projects That Will Help Expand Access to High-Speed Internet, Clean Water and Dependable Electric Power in People’s Homes and Businesses in Rural Washington
WASHINGTON, Dec. 16, 2021 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA is investing $5.2 billion to build and improve critical rural infrastructure in 46 states (including Washington) and Puerto Rico. The investments reflect the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to Building a Better America by investing in rural communities and will help expand access to high-speed internet, clean water and reliable electricity in people’s homes and businesses across rural America.
“When we invest in rural infrastructure, we invest in the livelihoods and health of people in rural America,” Vilsack said. “Under the leadership of President Biden and Vice president Harris, USDA is committed to Building a Better America by investing in America’s rural infrastructure, expanding access to broadband, clean drinking water and resilient power infrastructure. The investments we are announcing today will drive the creation of good-paying union jobs and grow the economy sustainably and equitably so that everyone gets ahead for decades to come.”
This announcement follows the recent passage of President Biden’s historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and reflects the many ways USDA Rural Development’s programs are helping people, businesses and communities address critical infrastructure needs to help rural America Build Back Better.
Secretary Vilsack highlighted investments in Washington State that USDA is making in programs designed to help people in rural areas access high-speed internet, clean water and dependable electric power. For example:
Benton Rural Electric Association will use a $4.85 million loan under the Electric Infrastructure Loan and Loan Guarantee Program to connect 487 consumers, and build 37 miles of line. Benton Rural Electric is headquartered in Prosser, Wash. It serves approximately 14,000 customers over 1,774 miles of line in Benton and Lewis counties in south central Washington.
Lewis County Public Utility District #1 will use $3 million under the Community Connect Grant Program to construct a 70-mil Fiber-to-the Premises system that will benefit country residents and businesses.
Whidbey Telephone Company will use a $1 million Community Connect Grant to construct a nine-mile Fiber-to-the Premises system to benefit 358 residents and three businesses in Point Roberts, Whatcom County. Subscribers will have access to broadband service, expanding access to economic, educational, health care, and public safety opportunities. A community center will also be provided in a mobile facility placed as part of this project where residents can access the Internet free of charge for at least two years.
Town of Twisp will use a $250,000 grant from the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program to install distribution lines in order to improve the quality of water and health factors of the community's water system while the City of Pateros will use a $223,00.00 grant to drill source wells, construct water reservoirs and install distribution lines in order to improve the quality and health factors of the community's water as it currently has high levels of manganese.
“You must have working infrastructure to allow a community to grow and prosper,” said Trudy Teter, Acting State Director for USDA Rural Development in Washington State. “Through these investments we continue to look for opportunities to help improve the quality of life and expand economic growth in rural communities across the state.“
Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA 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 www.rd.usda.gov/wa.