USDA invests $900 million in rural electric infrastructure in 16 states

U.S. Department of Agriculture
Farm Forum

NEW ORLEANS, La. – On March 4, Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Stephen Censky announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is investing $900 million to build, preserve or improve rural electric infrastructure across 16 states. Censky made the announcement at the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s annual meeting and conference in New Orleans.

“Rural electric cooperatives have been the champions of rural electric infrastructure, the lifeblood of America’s heartland, in every state across the country since the Rural Electrification Administration’s efforts in the 1930s,” Censky said. “Under the leadership of President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Perdue, USDA is committed to continuing this strong and critical partnership to increase prosperity across rural America, because when rural America thrives, all of America thrives.”

USDA is providing financing through the Electric Loan Program. It will help build and improve 2,743 miles of line to strengthen reliability in rural areas and will benefit 1.1 million rural residents and businesses. The loans include $17 million for investments in smart grid technology that uses digital communications to detect and react to local changes in electricity usage.

Among the loans announced today, the East Kentucky Power Cooperative is receiving a $347 million loan to make generation system improvements to enhance system reliability. Eastern Kentucky generates wholesale electricity and provides bulk transmission services. Its 16 distribution member cooperatives serve approximately 595,000 meters and more than 540,000 member-consumers in the eastern two-thirds of Kentucky. Its members serve 89 of Kentucky’s 120 counties.

The Brunswick Electric Membership Corp., in Shallotte, N.C., is receiving a $78 million loan to connect 10,288 consumers, and build or improve 274 miles of line. The loan includes $3.5 million in smart grid technologies. Brunswick serves more than 93,000 customers over 6,814 miles of line in Bladen, Brunswick, Columbus and Robeson counties in southeastern North Carolina.

The Little River Electric Cooperative in Abbeville, S.C., is receiving a $16 million loan to connect 1,043 consumers, and build and improve 142 miles of line. This project includes $3.4 million in smart grid technologies. Little River serves 14,257 customers over 2,082 miles of line in Abbeville, Anderson, Greenwood and McCormick counties.

States receiving funding under today’s announcement are Arkansas, California, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota and Virginia.