U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Donald “DJ” LaVoy today 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.
“Under the leadership of President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Perdue, USDA continues to be a strong, effective partner to rural communities in building, expanding and modernizing electric infrastructure,” LaVoy said. “These investments in essential electric grid upgrades help to improve the quality of life in rural communities, create rural jobs and strengthen America’s economy.”
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.
Among the loans announced today, Aligned Solar Partners 1, LLC in Maine will use a $1.7 million loan to finance a pair of 1 megawatt solar projects in Aroostook and Kennebec counties. The electricity generated will power two rural municipal water and sewer systems. This loan is an example of the ways in which USDA coordinates assistance through multiple programs – in this case the Electric and Water and Wastewater Programs.
North Carolina Electric Membership Corporation (NCEMC) will use a $16.6 million loan to improve generation systems at the Catawba Nuclear Station. NCEMC is a generation and transmission electric cooperative headquartered in Raleigh, N.C. It provides power to distribution cooperatives across 93 counties.
The A&N Cooperative, serving southeast Virginia and Maryland, will use a $54.4 million loan to build and improve 249 miles of line to improve service to 2,144 customers. The loan includes more than $5 million for smart grid technology. A&N serves 36,000 customers over nearly 2,500 miles of line in the lower Delmarva Peninsula in Accomack and Northampton counties in Virginia, and on Tangier Island (Va.) and Smith Island (Md.) in the Chesapeake Bay.
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 (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.