Agriculture Secretary Announces Electric System Improvements in Seven States
|Funding includes $5 million in 'smart grid' improvement and $3 million for Native Americans|
MINNEAPOLIS, Sept. 12, 2013 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced funding for projects in seven states, including Minnesota, to improve electric service for about 7,000 rural customers. Rural Utilities Service Administrator John Padalino made the announcement on the Secretary's behalf during a regional meeting of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. The loan guarantees are made available through the Rural Utilities Service of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development. They include more than $5 million for smart grid projects and nearly $3 million to improve electric service for Native Americans.
"These investments will continue to ensure that safe, reliable and affordable electric service is available for rural residents, farmers, and commercial and industrial consumers," Padalino said. "This funding is part of the Obama Administration's vision for a new rural energy economy. It includes investments in smart grid technologies that modernize our nation's electric system and improve system operation."
In Minnesota, Rural Development will finance nearly $16 million in loan guarantees to build more than 200 miles of line and finance more than $1.7 million in smart grid technologies for two projects. North Itasca Electric Co-op will receive nearly $6 million, and Mille Lacs Energy Cooperative will get nearly $10 million to keep electric power reliable and affordable for rural customers.
The following is a list of rural electric utilities that will receive USDA funding, contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the loan agreement:
The more than $136 million in USDA loan guarantees announced today will help build more than 2,200 miles of line, fund more than $5 million in smart grid projects and make other system improvements. The Obama Administration has invested more than $135 million in smart grid technologies nationwide during 2013.
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.
Posted: September 12, 2013