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Agriculture Secretary Announces Funding for Projects to Strengthen the Rural Electric Grid's Efficiency and Reliability

Announcement Includes More Than $18 million for Smart Grid Projects, Almost $10 Million for Native American Communities
 

WASHINGTON, July 17, 2013 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced funding for rural electric projects in seven states to provide reliable, affordable electricity for rural residents. USDA remains focused on carrying out its mission, despite a time of significant budget uncertainty. Today's announcement is one part of the Department's efforts to strengthen the rural economy.

"Funding for rural electric utilities is a cornerstone of the Obama Administration's continuing effort to develop a vibrant rural economy," Vilsack said. "It is also part of our 'all-of- the- above' strategy to support development of energy from a variety of renewable resources. USDA's support of rural electric utilities' deployment of smart grid technologies will increase efficiencies, reliability, and bring more jobs to rural America."

USDA Rural Development's support for rural electric utilities benefits an average of 8.6 million rural electric consumers annually. Smart grid technology is another tool to increase efficiency and reliability of the rural electric system. Since 2011, Rural Utilities Service borrowers have used USDA funding to invest nearly $464 million in smart grid improvements, providing for more strategic management of the rural electric system.

Today's announcement includes more than $188 million in loan guarantees to upgrade rural electric infrastructure, including more than $18 million in smart grid funding. The funding announced today will help finance the construction of more than 1,000 miles of new or improved electric line.

Three projects – Black Hills Electric Cooperative in South Dakota, Central Rural Electric Cooperative in Oklahoma and Lacreek Electric Association serving South Dakota and Nebraska – include $9.8 million for service improvements in Native American communities. The following is a complete list of rural electric utilities that will receive USDA funding, contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the loan agreement.

Florida

  • Seminole Electric Cooperative, Inc. – $44.6 million. Funds will be used for transmission system improvements. The loan amount includes $256,690 for smart grid projects.

Georgia

  • Rayle Electric Membership Corporation – $10 million. Funds will be used to serve 835 consumers, build 163 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The loan amount includes $2.1 million for smart grid projects.

Minnesota

  • Goodhue County Cooperative Electric Association – $7 million. Funds will be used to serve about 150 consumers, build 72 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The loan amount includes $126,451 for smart grid projects.

Missouri

  • Central Electric Power Cooperative – $59.1 million. Funds will be used to build two new substations, improve 21 miles of transmission line and make other system improvements. The loan amount includes $13.8 million for smart grid projects.
  • Citizens Electric Corporation – $30 million. Funds will be used to serve 1,654 consumers, build 89 miles of distribution and 13 miles of transmission line and make other system improvements. The loan amount includes $357,420 for smart grid projects.

Oklahoma

  • Central Rural Electric Cooperative – $9.7 million. Funds will be used to serve 640 consumers, build 37 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The loan amount includes $123,586 for service to Native Americans.

South Dakota

  • Black Hills Electric Cooperative, Inc. – $13.1 million. Funds will be used to serve almost 700 consumers, build 348 miles of distribution and 16 miles of transmission line and make other system improvements. The loan amount includes $760,096 for smart grid projects and $869,425 for service to Native Americans.

South Dakota and Nebraska

  • Lacreek Electric Association, Inc. – $14.5 million. Funds will be used to serve about 500 consumers, build 248 miles of distribution and 24 miles of transmission line and make other system improvements. The loan amount includes $1.4 million for smart grid projects and $8.8 million for service to Native Americans.

President Obama's plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President's leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America's economy, small towns and rural communities. USDA's investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values. President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Vilsack are committed to a smarter use of Federal resources to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities.

USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, has a portfolio of programs designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America. USDA has made a concerted effort to deliver results for the American people, even as the Department implements sequestration – the across-the-board budget reductions mandated under terms of the Budget Control Act.

USDA has already undertaken historic efforts since 2009 to save more than $828 million in taxpayer funds through targeted, common-sense budget reductions. These reductions have put USDA in a better position to carry out its mission, while implementing sequester budget reductions in a fair manner that causes as little disruption as possible.

 

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