ATHENS, Ga., Dec. 16, 2021 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA is investing $5.2 billion to build and improve critical rural infrastructure in 46 states and Puerto Rico. The investments reflect the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to Building a Better America by investing in rural communities and will help expand access to high-speed internet, clean water and reliable electricity in people’s homes and businesses across rural America.
“When we invest in rural infrastructure, we invest in the livelihoods and health of people in rural America,” Vilsack said. “Under the leadership of President Biden and Vice President Harris, USDA is committed to Building a Better America by investing in America’s rural infrastructure, expanding access to broadband, clean drinking water and resilient power infrastructure. The investments we are announcing today will drive the creation of good-paying union jobs and grow the economy sustainably and equitably so that everyone gets ahead for decades to come.”
This announcement follows the recent passage of President Biden’s historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and reflects the many ways USDA Rural Development’s programs are helping people, businesses and communities address critical infrastructure needs to help rural America build back better.
For example, in Georgia the following investments have been made under this announcement:
Coweta-Fayette EMC, Electric Infrastructure Loan, $86,000,000
This Rural Development investment will be used to connect 6,629 consumers and build and improve 602 miles of line. This loan includes $9,638,000 in smart grid technologies including 200 miles fiber backbone communication network. Coweta-Fayette is headquartered in Palmetto, Georgia, and serves 84,214 consumers over 6,590 miles of line in eight counties in western Georgia.
Oglethorpe Power Corp, Electric Infrastructure Loan, $234,681,000
This Rural Development investment will be used to finance the acquisition of a natural gas-fired combined cycle electric generation facility. Oglethorpe headquartered in Tucker, Georgia, is a generation and transmission electric cooperative (G&T) that is owned by 39 retail electric distribution cooperative members (Members) that serve about 1.96 million electric consumers encompassing 151 counties in Georgia.
Colquitt EMC, Electric Infrastructure Loan, $27,000,000
This Rural Development investment will be used to connect 4,388 consumers, and build and improve 302 miles of line. This loan includes $5,652,192 in smart grid technologies. Colquitt EMC is headquartered in Moultrie, Georgia, and serves on average 68,793 consumers through 9,134 miles of line throughout eleven counties in Georgia.
City of Pitts, Georgia, Water and Waste Disposal Grant (Disaster), $450,215
This Rural Development investment will be used to provide additional financing to drill a new well on the northern end of the city limits. The City of Pitts applied for assistance in 2017 under the WEP Supplemental Grant Assistance Program for damages caused by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. The city is having trouble with its water supply. The amendment to the PER indicates that the well pump was originally damaged by Hurricane Irma in September 2017. When the well pump was replaced, the city began to experience high levels of sediment.
NTUA Wireless LLC, Community Connect Grant, $1,801,556
This Rural Development investment will be used to construct a network utilizing fixed wireless (LTE based) equipment operating in the 2.65 and 3.65 GHz frequency bands in the Teec Noc Pos and surrounding area of the Navajo Reservation in Apache County, Arizona and San Juan County, New Mexico. Georgia is the location of the HQ for this organization.
Vilsack highlighted 359 investments that USDA is making in seven programs designed to help people in rural areas access high-speed internet, clean water and dependable electric power. These programs include Community Connect Grants, Electric Infrastructure Loan and Loan Guarantee Program, Telecommunications Infrastructure Loans and Loan Guarantees, Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program, Water and Waste Disposal Loan Guarantees, Water and Waste Disposal Technical Assistance and Training Grants and Water and Waste Disposal Predevelopment Planning Grants.
The investments announced today will support rural infrastructure projects in Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, Nebraska, North Dakota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Wyoming and Puerto Rico.
Under the Biden-Harris Administration, Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans 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, Tribal and high-poverty areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov. If you’d like to subscribe to USDA Rural Development updates, visit our GovDelivery subscriber page.
USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, promoting competition and fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate-smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.