U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) State Director for Colorado, Armando Valdez, announced the Department is investing $48.4 million to help two electric cooperatives and utilities expand and modernize the nation’s rural electric grid and increase grid security.
“When we invest in rural infrastructure, we build opportunity and prosperity in rural communities. The funding provided today will help make electric infrastructure more reliable and more affordable. Beyond the investment dollars highlighted in my announcement, the true focus of this message is the vision of progress created by the member-owned associations who pursued these opportunities. This is community empowering and leveraging resources in their own community. These investments support the local economy by making rural communities attractive, productive, economically viable, and safe places to live and work,” said Valdez.
In Colorado the two projects awarded funding are:
- Morgan County Rural Electric Association (REA), headquartered in Fort Morgan, CO, is receiving a $21,568,000 loan to connect 144 consumers, and build and improve 301 miles of line. This loan includes $1,691,212 in smart grid technologies. Morgan County REA serves 8,986 consumers over 2,919 miles of line throughout six counties in northeastern Colorado.
- Sangre De Cristo Electric Association, headquartered in Buena Vista, CO, is receiving a $26,841,000 loan to connect 1,431 consumers and build and improve 195 miles of line. The loan includes $858,100 for smart grid technologies. Sangre De Cristo serves 13,329 consumers over 1,799 miles of line in Lake, Fremont, Custer, Saguache and Chaffee counties in Colorado.
The funding is being provided through the USDA Electric Loan Program. These loans help rural utilities and cooperatives install and upgrade smart grid technologies. Smart grid can be a catalyst for broadband and other telecommunications services in unserved and underserved rural areas in addition to improving grid security and reliability. USDA’s Electric Loan Program can help finance wind, solar and natural gas plants, as well as improvements to produce cleaner energy from coal-fired plants. Local utilities also use the loans to invest in infrastructure to deliver affordable power to millions of residential, commercial and agricultural consumers.
In the coming months, USDA will announce additional energy infrastructure financing. The Biden-Harris Administration’s Inflation Reduction Act provided more than $12 billion to USDA for loans and grants to expand clean energy, transform rural power production, create jobs and spur economic growth. This funding will help make energy cleaner, more reliable and more affordable.
Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA 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 in Colorado, visit www.rd.usda.gov/co