U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development State Director Frank Frassetto announced that USDA is investing $251 million to upgrade rural electric systems in 13 states. The funding includes $38.2 million to finance smart grid technologies that improve system operations and monitor grid security.
“Providing reliable, affordable electricity is essential to sustaining the economic well-being and quality of life for Wisconsin’s rural residents,” Frassetto said. “USDA continues to support these investments to strengthen rural America’s economy and modernize electric infrastructure.”
USDA is providing financing through the Electric Loan Program for 12 projects that will serve rural areas in Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming. The funding will help build and improve 1,971 miles of line to improve electric reliability in rural areas.
In Wisconsin, Clark Electric Cooperative (CEC) will use a $7 million loan to connect 447 customers and build and improve 69 miles of line. The loan includes nearly $1.9 million in smart-grid technologies. CEC serves almost 9,200 customers over 1,996 miles of line in Marathon, Chippewa, Taylor, Jackson, Clark and Wood counties.
USDA will make additional funding announcements in coming weeks. USDA had $5.5 billion available for Electric Program loans in fiscal year 2019.
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. In addition, to view the categories of the recommendations, please view the Rural Prosperity infographic.
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 http://www.rd.usda.gov/wi.