State Director for Rural Development John Rounsaville 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.
In Mississippi, Cooperative Energy received an award totaling $148.9 million. This Rural Development investment will be used to make environmental upgrades, replace gas turbines, build transmission lines and substations, and make other improvements. Cooperative Energy provides wholesale power to its 11 generation and transmission members in southern and western Mississippi. Its systems include more than 1,800 miles of transmission lines that connect with more than 56,000 miles of distribution line serving more than 498,000 meters. This partnership provides electricity that serves approximately 1 million Mississippians in 55 counties.
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.