Acting Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Joel Baxley today announced that USDA is investing $485 million to upgrade rural electric systems and reduce energy costs. The funding includes nearly $7.1 million for smart grid technologies that improve system operations and monitor grid security.
“Under the leadership of Agriculture Secretary Perdue, USDA is a proud partner to utilities and cooperatives delivering reliable, affordable power to rural communities,” Baxley said. “These loans will enhance rural economic development and help improve the quality of life for people who live and work in rural America.”
USDA is providing financing through the Electric Loan Program to improve rural electric infrastructure in Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas and Wisconsin. These investments will help build or improve 2,635 miles of line.
“This investment further strengthens our critical electric infrastructure and facilitates economic growth,” said USDA Rural Development State Director for Michigan Jason Allen.
Dairyland Power Cooperative will use an $84,760,000 loan to build 18 miles of transmission line and upgrade 174 miles. Dairyland also will make improvements at several generating plants. It is a non-profit generation and transmission cooperative that provides wholesale electric service to 24 distribution members and 17 municipalities in Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. It has a diversified mix of generation resources consisting of coal, hydro, natural gas, wind, biomass, animal waste and solar. Its service territory is 59 percent residential, 15 percent small commercial and 26 percent large commercial. Dairyland's member cooperatives serve 263,000 consumers.
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 facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.