USDA to fund rural electric grid

By Agri-Pulse staff

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WASHINGTON, July 17, 2013 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced funding for rural electric projects in seven states to provide reliable, affordable electricity for rural residents. USDA says it remains focused on carrying out its mission, despite a time of significant budget uncertainty.

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"Funding for rural electric utilities is a cornerstone of the Obama Administration's continuing effort to develop a vibrant rural economy," Vilsack said. "It is also part of our 'all-of- the- above' strategy to support development of energy from a variety of renewable resources. USDA's support of rural electric utilities' deployment of smart grid technologies will increase efficiencies, reliability, and bring more jobs to rural America."

USDA Rural Development says its support for rural electric utilities benefits an average of 8.6 million rural electric consumers annually. Since 2011, Rural Utilities Service borrowers have used USDA funding to invest nearly $464 million in smart grid improvements, providing for more strategic management of the rural electric system.

Today's announcement includes more than $188 million in loan guarantees to upgrade rural electric infrastructure, including more than $18 million in smart grid funding. The funding announced today will help finance the construction of more than 1,000 miles of new or improved electric line.

Three projects - Black Hills Electric Cooperative in South Dakota, Central Rural Electric Cooperative in Oklahoma and Lacreek Electric Association serving South Dakota and Nebraska - include $9.8 million for service improvements in Native American communities.

For information on today's announcement, click here.  

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