From the U.S. Department of Agriculture:
Earlier today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a $598 million rural electric loan package to build or improve electric infrastructure in 11 states (PDF, 119 KB).
“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,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
The 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.