USDA Invests $10 Million in Rural Electric Infrastructure in Illinois and Wisconsin

Chris Hart
Release Date
Jun 22, 2020

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Illinois State Director Douglas A. Wilson today announced that USDA is investing $10 million in a joint project to build or improve rural electric infrastructure in Wisconsin’s Scenic River Co-op.

“Rural Development has a history of bringing areas together, whether with electricity, telecommunication, or broadband. Wilson said. This venture will expand services in two states.  Another example of Rural Development bridging the gap to improve rural America.”

USDA is providing loans and loan guarantees to rural electric cooperatives and utilities through the Electric Loan Program throughout the United States. The recipients will use the funds to build and improve electronic transmission and distribution lines, benefiting rural residents and businesses. The loans include funds for investments in smart grid technology, which uses digital communications to detect and react to local electricity usage changes.

Illinois and Wisconsin’s Scenic Rivers Energy Cooperation’s investment loan of $10,000,000 will be used to connect 805 customers and improve 422 miles of line. This loan includes $492,820 in smart grid technologies. Scenic River Energy, headquartered in Lancaster, Wis., serves approximately 14,000 consumers and over 3,512 miles of line in seven counties in southwestern Wisconsin and two counties in northwestern Illinois.

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 crucial recommendation of the task force. To view the Report in its entirety, please see the Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity (PDF, 5.4 MB). Also, to view the categories of the recommendations, please see 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 facilities such as schools, public safety, and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit


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