The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Development office in Virginia today announced that USDA is investing $47.7 million in electric infrastructure to improve rural electric services in Virginia.
“Access to electric infrastructure is not only essential to ensuring the economic competitiveness of rural communities, but also to expanding opportunities for the people who live in them,” said Beth Green, USDA Rural Development Virginia State Director. “At USDA, we know rural prosperity can only truly be achieved by connecting rural America to high-speed internet.”
The Southside Electric Cooperative will use a $47.7 million loan to add 2,578 customers, build 136 miles of line and make other system improvements. The loan amount includes $269,536 for smart grid projects. Southside, headquartered in Crewe, has approximately 8,250 miles of power line that provides service to 56,000 customers in 18 counties and one independent city in south central Virginia.
Its customers are within commuting distance to the Richmond, Petersburg, Charlottesville, Lynchburg and Roanoke areas. Southside serves predominantly residential loads and a small percentage of large commercial loads, including a correctional facility, a meat processing plant, pipeline companies, a bearing manufacturing facility and several facilities engaged in the production of forestry products.
USDA is making the investment through the Electric Infrastructure Loan Program.
Today’s announcement comes as part of Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett’s national announcement today that USDA is investing $398.5 million to improve rural electric service in 13 states. These projects will help improve the quality of life in rural communities in Arkansas, Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia.
These investments 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.