Ark Valley Electric Cooperative Association, located in South Hutchinson, will get a $6.13 million loan guarantee from USDA's Rural Development Program.
Ark Valley is one of nine coops in 10 states that will get loan guarantees to make improvements to generation and transmission facilities and implement smart grid technologies.
"USDA Rural Development partners with rural electric cooperatives to provide rural Kansans with affordable and reliable energy," said USDA Rural Development State Director Patty Clark. "USDA provides federal funding to finance critical infrastructure projects for Kansas electric cooperatives, which helps cooperatives improve services for their rural customers."
The guarantees nationally amount to almost $270 million to support smart grid technologies, which help utilities make efficiency improvements to the electric grid and help consumers lower their electric bills by reducing energy use in homes and businesses.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said this investment in loan funds for smart grid technologies means infrastructure investment at virtually no cost to the taxpayer. These technologies will facilitate the integration of renewable sources of electricity into the grid, help avoid blackouts and restore power quicker when outages occur, and reduce the need for new power plants. Smart grid technologies also provide a foundation for innovation by entrepreneurs and others who can develop tools to empower consumers and help them make informed decisions. A first generation of innovative consumer products and services—such as thermostats that can be controlled from a smart phone, or websites that show how much energy a house is using—can continue to help Americans save money on their electricity bills.
Ark Valley plans to build and upgrade 355 miles of distribution line in its nine county service area and make other system improvements. The loan amount includes $2.01 million in smart grid projects, which includes funding for automatic metering infrastructure.
"Ark Valley is a cooperative association created and owned by its consumers in order to get central station electricity to rural areas. Building and maintaining the infrastructure of overhead power lines is a very capital intensive business, and requires being able to borrow money for construction," said Bob Hall, Manger of the Ark Valley Electric Cooperative Association. "Our rural residents appreciate the U.S. Department of Agriculture giving us such loan guarantees that make it all possible."
The $269 million in loan guarantees announced today are provided by USDA Rural Development's Rural Utilities Service (RUS). The funding helps electric utilities upgrade, expand, maintain and replace rural America's electric infrastructure. USDA Rural Development also funds energy conservation and renewable energy projects.