WASHINGTON – Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett announced today that USDA is providing loans to help cooperatives and utilities in 10 states improve and expand rural electric infrastructure.
“Investing in electric infrastructure is critical to the success of businesses, residents and farmers in our small towns and rural areas,” Hazlett said. “These loans will help provide reliable electricity to rural areas in more efficient and sustainable ways than ever before.”
The loans are being provided through USDA Rural Development’s Electric Program. They will support the construction and improvement of nearly 1,200 miles of transmission and distribution line in rural parts of Idaho, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Virginia and Wyoming.
Electric Program loans can make a significant difference in rural areas. In 2015, for example, the Jackson Electric Membership Corporation in Jefferson, Ga., used a $140 million loan to facilitate the expansion of the Kubota Manufacturing Plant of America’s facility in Gainesville, Ga. The improvements that USDA financed for Jackson’s Hagan Creek substation brought 650 jobs to Hall County.
Kubota makes lawn and garden mowers and tractors, and tractor implements such as backhoes and front loaders.
In 2014, North Carolina’s Roanoke Electric Membership Corporation used a $6 million loan to help its customers make energy efficiency improvements. The customers reduced their energy usage by 20 percent on average.
USDA is providing more than $200 million in infrastructure loans in today’s announcement. This includes $12 million for smart grid technologies. Smart grid increases the reliability and efficiency of electric power by helping utilities better manage power needs and supply and improve operational efficiencies. It includes metering, substation automation, computer applications, two-way communications, geospatial information systems and other improvements.
The loan recipients are:
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• Butte Electric Cooperative – $12 million to build and improve 154 miles of line and make other system improvements. The loan includes $83,719 for smart grid projects.
• Oahe Electric Cooperative – $5.9 million to build and improve 47 miles of line and make other system improvements. The loan includes $128,046 for smart grid projects.
South Dakota, Minnesota
• H-D Electric Cooperative – $3.6 million to build a new headquarters facility, including an office and warehouse to better serve members in South Dakota and Minnesota.
• Carbon Power & Light – $16.8 million to build and improve 112 miles of line and make other system improvements. The loan includes $784,000 for smart grid projects.
USDA’s Electric Program is the successor to the Rural Electrification Administration. It makes loans and loan guarantees to nonprofit and cooperative associations, public bodies and other utilities to help finance the construction of electric distribution and generation facilities in rural areas.
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; homeownership; 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.