Funding Announced to Improve Rural Electric Infrastructure

Smart grid technology projects are being included that will make the grid more reliable and efficient.

Published on: Mar 8, 2012

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Wednesday announced that rural electric cooperative utilities in eight states will receive funding to install smart grid technologies and make improvements to generation and transmission facilities. The announcement was made on the Secretary's behalf by Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager during the 2012 National Rural Electric Cooperative Association Annual Meeting in San Diego.

"President Obama is taking an all- of-the-above approach to meet our energy challenges by developing new domestic energy sources, expanding oil and gas production, and reducing our overall reliance on oil through fuel efficiencies and renewable energy development," Vilsack said. "By supporting electrical system improvements, the Obama Administration is not only improving the reliability of America's electric grid, it's creating jobs and promoting business expansion. These investments in smart grid technologies give rural electric utilities and their consumers one more tool to better manage their use of electricity, improve efficiency, increase reliability of the electric grid and lower overall costs."

In less than a year, USDA Rural Development is more than halfway toward reaching Secretary Vilsack's goal to fund more than $250 million for Smart Grid technologies. Today's announcement includes support for about $25 million in Smart Grid technologies.

Examples of funding announced today include the Roanoke Electric Membership Corporation in Ahoskie, NC. It will receive a $16.8 million guaranteed loan to fund system improvement projects to enhance reliability. The loan will also finance smart grid technologies and transmission line improvements. In Laurel, Miss., Dixie Electric Power Association will receive a $29 million loan to build or improve 301 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The loan includes $8.9 million for automated metering.

The $201 million in loans announced today are provided by USDA Rural Development's Rural Utilities Service. 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.

The following is a list of rural utilities that will receive USDA funding, which is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the loan agreement.

Florida

  • Gulf Coast Electric Cooperative, Inc. – $19,922,000. Funding will be used to build and improve 274 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The loan amount includes $2,397,027 in smart grid projects.

Georgia

  • Georgia Transmission Corporation – $74,051,000. Funding will be used to construct new lines and substations and make upgrades to existing lines and substations. The loan amount includes $5,305,823 in smart grid projects.
  • Upson Electric Membership Corporation – $3,925,000. Funding will be used to build and improve 94 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements.

Mississippi

  • Dixie Electric Power Association – $29,079,000. Funding will be used to build and improve 301 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements.
  • Magnolia Electric Power Association – $30,000,000. Funding will be used to build and improve 251 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The loan amount includes $5,414,200 in smart grid projects.

New Mexico

  • Southwestern Electric Cooperative, Inc. – $6,646,000. Funding will be used to build and improve 65 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The loan amount includes $699,560 in smart grid projects.

North Carolina

  • Roanoke Electric Membership Corporation – $16,820,000. Funding will be used to build and improve 106 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The loan amount includes $156,100 in smart grid projects.

Ohio

  • Darke Rural Electric Cooperative, Inc. – $5,620,000. Funding will be used to build and improve 69 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The loan amount includes $637,360 for smart grid projects.

South Dakota

  • Codington-Clark Electric Cooperative, Inc. – $9,013,000. Funding will be used to build and improve 87 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The loan amount includes $965,953 in smart grid projects.

Tennessee

  • Tennessee Valley Electric Cooperative – $6,912,000. Funds will be used to build and improve 406 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements.