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USDA Invests $598 Million to Improve and Modernize Rural Electric Infrastructure After Severe Weather and Age Test the Grid

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Daniel Blottenberger's picture
Public Affairs Specialist USDA Rural Development Pennsylvania

At USDA Rural Development we are committed to helping improve the economy and quality of life in rural America. Through our more than 40 loan and grant programs, we touch rural America in many...

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Investments will Benefit 460,000 Rural Residents and Businesses

WASHINGTON, March 16, 2021 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced today a $598 million rural electric loan package to build or improve electric infrastructure in 11 states (PDF, 119 KB).

“The Biden-Harris administration is committed to bringing critical financial assistance to rural families and making significant investments in community infrastructure across rural America,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “These USDA investments will bring affordable electric power to rural residents, Tribal communities, community facilities, schools and medical institutions that perform critical services each day. Now is the time for our nation to make significant investments in infrastructure — roads, bridges, broadband and energy — to improve quality of life and support good-paying jobs, transition to a clean energy economy, and keep the United States poised to lead the global economy.”

Background:

USDA is investing in 11 projects through the Electric Loan Program. This funding will benefit 460,000 rural residents and businesses in Arizona, Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah and Virginia. Several of the loans will help expand smart grid technologies, which can be a catalyst for broadband and other telecommunications services in unserved and underserved rural areas.

Below are some examples of how the funds will be used:

  • The Navajo Tribal Utility Authority, headquartered in Fort Defiance, Ariz., will use a $235 million loan to connect 1,340 consumers and build and improve 636 miles of line throughout the system on the reservation. This loan will also fund transmission expansions and upgrades, and the construction of warehouse and headquarters facilities throughout the reservation. The funding will be used to acquire 5,337 consumers and build 144 miles of transmission line and 221 miles of distribution line near Tuba City and on the Hopi Reservation. Also, $29.4 million of this loan will go to smart grid technologies, including 304 miles of backbone fiber and 27 miles of customer drops.
  • In Maine, ASP2 Rural LLC will use a $7.7 million loan to develop three solar photovoltaic facilities. The three projects are: Caribou Solar, a 964.6 kilowatt project in Caribou; Dirt Solar, a 3,937 kilowatt project in Skowhegan; and Freeport Solar, a 982.2 kilowatt project in Fairfield.
  • In Missouri, the Intercounty Electric Cooperative Association will use a $15 million loan to connect 1,955 consumers and build and improve 136 miles of line. This loan includes $432,000 in smart grid technologies. Intercounty serves approximately 30,000 customers through 5,700 miles of line in nine counties in the state.

USDA’s Electric Loan Program helps finance wind, solar and natural gas plants, as well as improvements to produce clean energy from coal-fired plants. Local utilities also use the loans to invest in infrastructure to deliver affordable power to millions of residential, commercial and agricultural consumers.

To learn more about electric infrastructure and other investment resources for rural areas, contact the USDA Rural Development state office.

Under the Biden-Harris administration, USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety, and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural, Tribal and high-poverty areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov. If you’d like to subscribe to USDA Rural Development updates, visit our GovDelivery subscriber page.

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, ensuring access to healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate-smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean-energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.

Release & Contact Info

Press Release

Release No. 0049.21

Contact: USDA Press
Email: press@usda.gov

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USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.

Daniel Blottenberger's picture
Thank Daniel for the Post!
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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Mar 17, 2021

These look like terrific projects-- not only creating momentum on the types of projects that have long been needed from a technical and a justice standpoint, but also stimulating the economy and creating jobs that will be sustainable moving forward. 

Daniel Blottenberger's picture
Daniel Blottenberger on Mar 18, 2021

I concur Matt. Every little bit counts as we try to improve the overall infrastructure in rural America. Thanks for the comment. -Daniel

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