Electric cooperatives in 24 states will receive nearly $1.6 billion in loans from the Department of Agriculture to improve system operations, repair power lines and substations, and increase grid resiliency.
Loans are going to 44 co-ops, a green energy developer in Hawaii and the Seneca Nation of Indians in New York.
“Reliable and affordable power is an underpinning for economic development and quality of life,” said Anne Hazlett, USDA assistant to the secretary for Rural Development. “Under the leadership of Secretary Sonny Perdue, USDA is committed to being a strong partner in building prosperity in rural communities through the sustainment and modernization of rural electric infrastructure.”
The USDA funds will help build or improve 5,833 miles of transmission line. The funds also include $307 million in smart grid technologies. About 7 million rural residents and businesses will benefit.
States Receiving USDA Loans
In southern Minnesota, a $10 million loan will bring smart meters for the first time to South Central Electric Association. Currently, most of the co-op’s 4,700 members read their own meters and sent in the information. The St. James-based co-op expects to install the new meters next spring.
“We’ll be giving members better access to their usage that will help them make better choices,” said Jim Haler, the co-op’s member service manager and one of 23 employees.
The co-op will use the loan to inform members of the new meters, install towers and other supporting infrastructure, and work with the National Information Solutions Cooperative on integrating software.
Check out the full list of the USDA co-op loans announced Nov. 8.
Victoria A. Rocha is a staff writer at NRECA.