Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $398.5 million to improve rural electric service in 13 states. State Director Edd Hargett reported that $29.6 million of that is being invested in Texas.
“Reliable and affordable electricity is undeniably a necessity in today’s world,” Hazlett said. “Under the leadership of Secretary Sonny Perdue, USDA is committed to being a strong partner in keeping our rural communities connected to this essential infrastructure.”
USDA is making the investments through the Electric Infrastructure Loan Program. Below are a few examples of the projects USDA is funding in Texas:
- Bartlett Electric Cooperative will use a $13.6 million loan to add 756 consumers, build 45 miles of line, improve 150 miles and make other system improvements. The loan amount includes $167,800 for smart grid projects. Bartlett Electric is headquartered in Bartlett and has a District Office in Killeen. It provides electric service to more than 11,000 customers through 1,706 miles of line in central Texas, just northeast of Austin.
- Victoria Electric Cooperative is receiving a $16 million loan to be used for communication upgrades, fiber, and other smart grid projects. Victoria Electric is located in southwest Texas on the Gulf Coast. It provides electric service to approximately 23,000 customers through 2,972 miles of line in Calhoun, DeWitt, Goliad, Jackson, and Victoria counties.
“Electric cooperatives provide a fundamental service to rural Texas communities,” said Hargett. “By providing loans such as the ones announced today, we promote sustainable economic development and enhance the quality of life in rural communities and regions with exceptional needs.”
The investments USDA is making today include nearly $43.7 million for smart grid technology to increase system efficiencies. Smart grid includes computer applications, two-way machine-to-machine communications, geospatial information systems and other tools to increase the reliability and efficiency of electric power systems.
The Department’s support for rural cooperatives and utilities underscores Secretary Perdue’s priority to promote rural economic development by centering around three principles: infrastructure, partnerships and innovation. Investing in electric infrastructure has increased productivity and improved the quality of life in rural areas for nearly 80 years.
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 services such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.