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USDA Invests $309 Million in Rural Electric Utilities
Missouri Ag Connection - 06/08/2018

Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett Thursday announced that USDA is investing $309 million in 16 projects (PDF, 107 KB) to improve rural electric infrastructure in 12 states.

"Robust, modern infrastructure is a foundation for quality of life and economic opportunity no matter the zip code in which you live," Hazlett said. "Under Secretary Perdue's leadership, USDA is committed to being a strong partner in addressing rural infrastructure needs to support a more prosperous future in rural communities."

Hazlett made the announcement Thursday during a visit to the Central Iowa Power Cooperative. One of its members, Farmers Electric Cooperative in Greenfield, Iowa, is receiving a $1.4 million USDA loan to invest in smart grid projects. Farmers plans to install more than 5,800 single-phase meters and additional meter reading equipment in its west-central Iowa service area.

Hazlett also announced that Harrison County REC, in Woodbine, Iowa, is receiving a $6 million loan to build 20 miles of electric line, improve 57 miles and make other system improvements. Its loan includes $578,000 for smart grid projects.

The loans announced Thursday are being made through USDA's Electric Infrastructure Loan and Loan Guarantee program. It helps finance generation, transmission and distribution projects; system improvements; and energy conservation projects in communities with 10,000 or fewer residents.

Farmers Electric Cooperative and Harrison County REC join many other rural electric cooperatives and utilities that partner with USDA to use smart grid for computer applications, two-way communications, geospatial information systems and other tools to increase the reliability and efficiency of electric power systems.

Thursday's investments will build or improve 1,660 miles of electric line serving rural homes, farms and businesses. USDA is funding infrastructure improvements for utilities in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, North Carolina, New Mexico, Ohio, South Dakota and Washington.

Funding for these loans was included in the FY 2018 Omnibus spending bill. It allocates significant resources for infrastructure investments, including $6.25 billion to USDA for electric loans. The measure also directs Secretary Perdue to make investments in rural communities with the greatest infrastructure needs.

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