The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Utilities Service Administrator Chad Rupe recently announced that the USDA is investing US$181 million to upgrade rural electric systems in 10 states. The funding includes US$7.7 million to finance smart grid technologies that improve system operations and monitor grid security.
The USDA is providing financing for 12 projects in Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas, and Wisconsin through the Electric Loan Program. The funding will help build and improve 1354 miles of line to enhance electric reliability and resilience in rural areas.
Among the loans announced, Ohio’s Buckeye Rural Electric Cooperative is receiving US$19.7 million to build and improve 96 miles of line. The upgrades will serve 600 new customers. Buckeye also will invest US$327,000 in smart grid technologies to increase system efficiency and resilience. It serves more than 18,600 customers over 2500 miles of line in nine counties in eastern Ohio.
The Licking Valley Rural Electric Cooperative in West Liberty, Kentucky, is also receiving a US$19.7 million loan. It will build and upgrade 74 miles of line and install nearly US$338,000 in smart grid technologies. These investments will serve 17,300 residential and business consumers over 2072 miles of line in eight counties.
The USDA will make additional funding announcements in the future. Congress appropriated US$5.5 billion for the USDA’s Electric Loan Program in fiscal year 2019.
“For more than eight decades, the USDA has been a strong partner to rural communities in building and expanding electric infrastructure,” Rupe said. “Under the leadership of President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Perdue, the USDA is committed to investing in essential infrastructure upgrades that improve the quality of life in rural communities and help grow the rural economy.”
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 key recommendation of the Task Force.
To see the report in its entirety, please view the Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity. To see the categories of the recommendations, please view the Rural Prosperity infographic.