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. “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. Colorado was awarded two projects. San Miguel Power Association will use an $11 million loan to build 205 miles of line, improve 47 miles and make other system improvements. The loan amount includes $571,654 for smart grid projects. San Miguel is headquartered in Nucla. It serves 13,473 customers through 3,800 miles of line in Dolores, Hinsdale, Mesa, Montrose, Ouray, San Juan and San Miguel counties. Morgan County Rural Electric Association (MCREA) will use a $21.1 million loan to build 53 miles of line, improve 99 miles and make other system improvements. The loan amount includes $2,869,596 for smart grid projects. MCREA is headquartered in Fort Morgan and serves 8,120 members over 2,877 miles of line in Adams, Arapahoe, Logan, Morgan, Washington, and Weld counties.
“USDA Rural Development has been intricately involved with electricity for over 80+ years since the inception of the Rural Electrification Act. Our funding can provide for much-needed infrastructure or infrastructure improvements to rural communities. This $32 million investment to electric power will help to expand economic opportunities and improve the quality of life for rural residents,” said Sallie Clark, USDA Rural Development Colorado State Director.
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.