Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Funding for Projects to Boost Rural Electric Grid Efficiency and Reliability
|Funding targets more than $15 million for Smart Grid Projects|
WASHINGTON, June 12, 2013 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced funding for rural electric projects in 16 states to provide reliable, affordable electricity for rural residents, including improved service for Native Americans. 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.
"USDA funding for rural electric utilities not only improves service to customers, it makes the grid more efficient and reliable and encourage investment, business development and job creation in rural communities," Vilsack said.
USDA's support for rural electric utilities benefits more than 8.5 million rural electric consumers annually. Smart grid technology further increases the efficiency and reliability of the rural electric system. Since 2011, rural electric cooperatives have used USDA funding to invest nearly $560 million in smart grid improvements.
Today's announcement includes more than $356 million in loans to upgrade rural electric services, including more than $15 million in smart grid funding. The funding announced today will help finance the construction of more than 2,400 miles of new or improved electric line.
One of the utilities that will receive funding is Western Farmers Electric Cooperative, Inc., in Anadarko, Okla. It was selected to receive an $82.4 million guaranteed loan to build or improve 78 miles of transmission line, two substations, and make other system improvements. Additionally, the loan includes $4.5 million for smart grid projects. The funding will benefit customers in Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico and Texas.
Projects planned by Beltrami Electric Cooperative Association in Minnesota, Butte Electric Cooperative in South Dakota and Benton Rural Electric Association in Washington include funding for electric 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.
Arkansas and Louisiana
North Dakota and Minnesota
Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico and Texas
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 USDA 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.
Posted: June 12, 2013