USDA is investing $371 million to build and improve critical electric infrastructure that will benefit more than 222,000 rural residents and commercial customers in 11 states.
“These investments will improve electric service by connecting more consumers, building and improving lines, and modernizing power grids in rural communities,” said USDA Rural Development Deputy Under Secretary Bette Brand.
USDA is investing in 10 projects through the Electric Loan Program. This funding will help build and improve 3,741 miles of line to improve electric reliability and resilience in rural areas in Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Dakota and Wisconsin. The loans include $80 million for investments in smart grid technology, which uses digital communications to detect and react to local changes in electricity usage.
- East Central Energy in Braham, Minn., is receiving a $40 million loan to improve infrastructure, and connect 960 consumers and build 200 miles of transmission and distribution line. The utility will use $5 million of the loan to invest in smart grid technologies to improve system communications for more than 60,000 customers through 8,376 miles of line in 11 counties in east central Minnesota and three counties in northwest Wisconsin.
- In Alaska, Naknek Electric Association is receiving a $1.5 million loan to supplement operating expenses and revenue loss due to the coronavirus pandemic. The association serves approximately 1,100 consumers through 93 miles of line.
- In rural Paducah, Ky., the Jackson Purchase Energy Corporation is receiving a $61 million loan to connect 1,718 consumers, build and improve 135 miles of line, and add smart grid technologies to its services.