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Ohio, Michigan big recipients of electric grid investments

The loans are through the USDA Rural Development Electric Loan and Loan Guarantee Program.

Jennifer Kiel

February 8, 2023

3 Min Read
Electrical grid infrastructure power lines and poles
ELECTRIC IMPROVEMENTS: In total, Ohio received loans of $291,014,000, while Michigan totaled $273,696,000 for improvements to the electric grid. EschCollection/Getty Images

Michigan and Ohio are big winners as part of a $2.7 billion investment into 64 projects nationwide to benefit rural residences and businesses by getting them connected to the electric grid with better high-speed internet services.

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack says the loans will be used to expand and modernize the electric grid, while also increasing security.

Two projects in Michigan were funded, including Michigan’s Great Lakes Energy Cooperative (GLE), headquartered in northwest Lower Michigan, which received the highest funding of any project in the U.S.

It will receive a $263 million loan to be used to connect 5,030 consumers and build and improve 438 miles of line. This loan includes various smart-grid projects totaling more than $182 million, including the installation of 2,420 miles of fiber backbone communication network.

Ohio, which had four projects funded, wasn’t far behind. South Central Power Co., based out of Lancaster, received a $254,758,000 loan to be used to connect 6,383 consumers, build and improve 320 miles of line, and transmission system projects.

This loan includes various smart-grid projects in the amount of $94,713,300, including the installation of 1,130 miles of fiber cable to establish reliable communications between the cooperative's offices, substations and some remote-operable line devices.

USDA’s Electric Loan Program can help finance wind, solar and natural gas plants, as well as improvements to produce cleaner 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.

In total, Ohio received loans of $291,014,000, while Michigan totaled $273,696,000.

Other projects include:

Michigan’s Alger-Delta Cooperative Electric Association. Headquartered in Gladstone, the association is receiving a nearly $11 million investment from USDA to connect 735 customers and build and improve more than 84 miles of line.

North Western Electric Cooperative. Headquartered in Bryan, Ohio, the cooperative will utilize $6 million to connect 171 consumers and improve 13 miles of line. This loan includes $200,500 in smart grid technologies.

Darke Rural Electric Cooperative. Headquartered in Greenville, Ohio, the cooperative will receive $9,796,000, which will be used to connect 184 consumers, and build and improve 73 miles of line. This loan includes $1,004,925 in smart-grid technologies.

Hancock-Wood Electric Cooperative. Headquartered in North Baltimore, Ohio, the cooperative is receiving $20,460,000 to connect 400 consumers, and build and improve 231 miles of line. This loan includes $2,458,375 in smart-grid technologies.

Smart-grid funding can be a catalyst for broadband and other telecommunications services in unserved and underserved rural areas, in addition to improving grid security and reliability.

“This funding will help rural cooperatives and utilities invest in changes that make our energy more efficient, more reliable and more affordable,” Tom Vilsack said. “Investing in infrastructure — roads, bridges, broadband and energy — supports good-paying jobs and keeps the United States poised to lead the global economy.”

USDA said it plans to announce additional energy infrastructure funding in the coming months.

Across the U.S., this funding will benefit nearly 2 million rural people and businesses in Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

About the Author(s)

Jennifer Kiel

Editor, Michigan Farmer

While Jennifer is not a farmer and did not grow up on a farm, "I think you'd be hard pressed to find someone with more appreciation for the people who grow our food and fiber, live the lifestyles and practice the morals that bind many farm families," she says.

Before taking over as editor of Michigan Farmer in 2003, she served three years as the manager of communications and development for the American Farmland Trust Central Great Lakes Regional Office in Michigan and as director of communications with Michigan Agri-Business Association. Previously, she was the communications manager at Michigan Farm Bureau's state headquarters. She also lists 10 years of experience at six different daily and weekly Michigan newspapers on her impressive resume.

Jennifer lives in St. Johns with her two daughters, Elizabeth, 19, and Emily 16.

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