Funding Includes $98.3 Million to Improve Grid Security and Reliability
Columbus, Ohio, Jan. 30, 2023 – U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Ohio State Director Jonathan McCracken announced today that USDA is investing more than $291 million to help 4 electric cooperatives and utilities expand and modernize the electric grid and increase grid security.
“USDA Rural Development is in a unique position to help rural communities build, maintain and improve electric infrastructure,” said McCracken. “The investments announced today support our rural co-ops and communities by ensuring reliable, affordable power. This funding will create and save jobs by attracting and retaining employers and workers.”
USDA is investing in 4 projects through the Electric Loan Program. This funding will benefit nearly 149,000 rural people and businesses throughout Ohio.
The loans include $98.3 million to help rural utilities 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.
South Central Power Company will use a $254.7 million loan to connect 6,383 consumers, build, and improve 320 miles of line, and transmission system projects. This loan includes various smart grid projects in the amount of $94,713,300 including the installation of 1,130 miles of fiber cable to establish reliable communications between the cooperative's offices, substations, and some remote-operable line devices. South Central is headquartered in Lancaster, Ohio, and provides service to approximately 123,489 consumers and over 11,729 miles of line in part of 18 counties located in south central Ohio.
Hancock-Wood Electric will use a $20.4 million loan to connect 400 consumers and build and improve 231 miles of line. This loan includes $2,458,375 in smart grid technologies. Hancock-Wood Electric is headquartered in North Baltimore, Ohio, and provides service to approximately 13,400 consumers and over 1,581 miles of line in 11 counties in northwest Ohio.
Darke Rural Electric will use a $9.7 million loan to connect 184 consumers and build and improve 73 miles of line. This loan includes $1,004,925 in smart grid technologies. Darke Rural Electric is headquartered in Greenville, Ohio, and provides service to an average of 5,170 consumers and over 889 miles of line located in Darke, Preble and Mercer counties all located in the west central Ohio.
North Western Electric Cooperative will use a $6 million loan to connect 171 consumers and improve 13 miles of line. This loan includes $200,500 in smart grid technologies. North Western Electric is headquartered in Bryan, Ohio and serves 5,996 consumers with over 1,080 miles of line in four counties in northwestern Ohio.
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.