On November 2, the United States Department of Agriculture announced a $2.5-billion investment in rural electric infrastructure improvements. These funds will be used to support improvements in 27 states, with the hope of creating jobs and supporting economic development.
The states receiving funding are Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming. The complete list of loans can be viewed here.
“These significant investments will help develop and maintain modern, reliable electric infrastructure that businesses and rural communities need in a 21st century economy,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue in a statement. “The loans I am announcing today will help utilities and cooperatives build new transmissions and distribution lines, upgrade networks and facilities, and better manage the power grid.”
Some of the more significant loans include $18.3 million to Jemez Mountains Electric Coop. in Espanola, N.M.; $11.7 million to Harney Electric Coop. in Oregon; $14.2 million to Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric Coop. in Portola, Calif.; and $130 million to Withlacoochee River Electric Coop. in Dade City, Fla.
Much of the money in these loans will go toward building many miles of new line, as well as improving existing line across the country. However, many utilities and cooperatives will use some of the money for smart grid projects and improvements. In all, the USDA states $127 million will be going toward smart-grid projects.
In North Carolina, much of the money will go toward building solar photovoltaic energy farms across the state. Gamble Solar, Wadesboro Solar and Salisbury Solar are the companies receiving the loans.
The loans are being provided by the USDA Rural Development Electric Program, which includes utility programs that were formerly part of the Rural Electrification Administration.
For more on electric programs and loans, visit https://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/all-programs/electric-programs.