Rural Development State Director Tom Fern today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is providing over $200 million to fund 8 electric projects across Kentucky. These loans will result in job creation, infrastructure upgrades, and improve system operations for rural electric customers across the Commonwealth.
“Rural electric utilities have provided reliable and affordable electricity to help rural communities increase productivity and build stronger economies for 80 years,” Fern said. “In addition to building and improving hundreds of miles of electric line, some of the money will finance energy efficiency projects, renewable fuel systems and smart grid technologies, along with additional upgrades to infrastructure.”
The $200 million will build or improve 1,155 miles of transmission and distribution line across rural Kentucky, and includes $18.9 million for smart grid technologies. The loans are being provided through the Electric Program of the Rural Utilities Service, the successor to the Rural Electrification Administration. Eighty years ago this spring, President Roosevelt signed the law that charged USDA to provide electric power to rural America. The Electric Program makes loans and loan guarantees to non-profit and cooperative associations, public bodies and other utilities.
In addition to today’s announcement, since 2009, USDA has invested $38 billion in electric loans and more than $1 billion for smart grid technologies, helping build more than 185,000 miles of transmission and distribution. Smart grid technology increases the reliability of electric power by helping utilities better manage the electric grid to improve operational efficiencies. It includes metering, substation automation, computer applications, two-way communications, geospatial information systems and other improvements.
Improvements to rural electric utility systems help to provide reliable and affordable electricity to rural customers, increasing efficiencies, reducing carbon emissions and improving the quality of life in rural areas.
Blue Grass Energy Cooperative Corp. is receiving a $44 million loan to build or improve 237 miles of line, and make other system improvements. The loan amount includes $6.1 million for smart grid projects.
West Kentucky Rural Electric Cooperative Corp. will use a $25 million loan to make system improvements, including building and improving 180 miles of line. The cooperative will use nearly $4.8 million for smart grid technology, increasing the efficiency of system operations.
Clark Energy Cooperative will use a $20 million loan to build or improve 155 miles of line and make other system improvements. The amount includes $3 million in smart grid technology.
Today’s announcement is part of USDA’s celebration of National Cooperative Month throughout October. This year’s theme is “Cooperatives Build.” Secretary Vilsack kicked off the month-long celebration with an official proclamation.
Since 2009, USDA Rural Development (@USDARD) has invested $38.2 billion in 1,057 electric projects that have financed more than 198,000 miles of transmission and distribution lines serving 4.6 million rural residents. USDA also has invested nearly $13 billion to start or expand nearly 112,000 rural businesses; helped 1.1 million rural residents buy homes; funded nearly 9,200 community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care facilities; and helped bring high-speed Internet access to nearly 6 million rural residents and businesses. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/results.