USDA is investing $122 million to expand and upgrade rural electric systems in Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Oklahoma and South Dakota. The funding includes more than $7 million to finance smart grid technologies to improve system operations and monitor grid security.
“Modern and reliable electric infrastructure is foundational to building prosperity in rural America,” said Acting Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Joel Baxley.
USDA is investing in seven projects through funds from the Electric Loan Program. The loans will help build or improve 964 miles of line to benefit more than 6,200 business and residential customers.
South Dakota’s West River Electric Association, for example, is receiving a $30 million loan to build or improve 163 miles of line, serve 1,049 new customers and finance $2.4 million in smart grid technologies. Smart grid includes computer applications, two-way machine-to-machine communications, geospatial information systems and other tools to increase the reliability and efficiency of electric power systems. West River serves 16,920 residential and commercial consumers in an area largely dependent on agriculture, tourism and business activity.
Southern Indiana Rural Electric Cooperative Inc. will use a $10.5 million loan to build or improve 92 miles of line to enhance system operations for 600 rural consumers. The loan also includes more than $1.5 million for smart grid technologies. Southern Indiana serves 9,300 consumers over 1,643 miles of line across five counties. Its service territory includes both agricultural and industrial consumers, such as woodworking, furniture manufacturing, logging, rock quarrying, coal mining, crude oil production and manufacturing of steel products.