Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Smart Grid, Transmission System Improvements to Create Jobs, Benefit Consumers in 14 States | USDA
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Release No. 0384.11
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USDA Office of Communications (202) 720-4623

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Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Smart Grid, Transmission System Improvements to Create Jobs, Benefit Consumers in 14 States

WASHINGTON, August 29, 2011 — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that rural electric cooperative utilities will receive funding for smart grid technologies and improvements to generation and transmission facilities. These loans will benefit more than 19,000 rural consumers in 14 states.

"Rural electric cooperatives provide direct jobs and support economic growth in our rural communities," Vilsack said. "By financing electrical system improvements USDA and the Obama Administration helps ensure sustainable growth and business job creation. Investments in smart grid technologies will give rural electric utilities and their consumers one more tool to better manage use of electricity, increase reliability and lower costs."

Among the rural electric cooperative utilities that will receive funding are Hoosier Energy Rural Electric Cooperative, Inc., which serves Indiana and parts of Illinois. Hoosier received a $462.5 million loan to fund system projects to improve reliability and comply with environmental requirements. The loan will also finance smart grid technologies and transmission line improvements.

Northeast Oklahoma Electric Cooperative, Inc., received a of $23.5 million loan to build or improve nearly 250 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The loan includes $1.2 million for automated metering.

The $900 million in loans announced today are provided by USDA Rural Development's Rural Utilities Service (RUS) to help electric utilities upgrade, expand, maintain and replace rural America's electric infrastructure. RUS funding will help build nearly 1,500 miles of line and improve more than 1,700 miles of existing line in rural areas. More than $19 million will finance smart grid technologies. USDA Rural Development also funds energy conservation and renewable energy projects.

The following is a list of rural utilities that were selected to receive USDA funding, which is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the loan agreement.

Delaware

  • Delaware Electric Cooperative, Inc. – $28,300,000, to build 587 miles of new distribution line, improve 55 miles of existing distribution line, and make other system improvements.

Georgia

  • Ocmulgee Electric Membership Corporation – $8,968,000, to build 238 miles of new distribution line, improve 33 miles of existing distribution line, and make other system improvements.

Iowa

  • Harrison County Rural Electric Cooperative – $9,000,000, to build 23 miles of new distribution line, improve 389 miles of existing distribution line, and make other system improvements.

Illinois

  • Illinois Rural Electric Cooperative – $18,196,000, to improve 183 miles of existing distribution line, and make other system improvements.

Illinois and Indiana

  • Hoosier Energy Rural Electric Cooperative, Inc. – $462,526,000, to finance projects for capital additions, upgrades and replacement of existing generation and transmission facilities; to build 5 miles of new transmission line and improve 71 miles of existing transmission line.

Kansas

  • Rolling Hills Electric Cooperative, Inc. – $3,720,000, to build 17 miles of new distribution lines, and make other system improvements.

Michigan

  • Great Lakes Energy Cooperative – $42,912,000, to build 122 miles of new distribution line, improve 221 miles of existing distribution line, and make other system improvements.

Minnesota

  • Crow Wing Cooperative Power and Light Company – $22,400,000, to build 49 miles of new distribution line, improve 147 miles of existing distribution line, and make other system improvements.

Minnesota and Wisconsin

  • East Central Energy – $50,000,000, to build 174 miles of new distribution line, improve 158 miles of existing distribution line, and make other system improvements.

Missouri

  • Consolidated Electric Cooperative – $15,980,000, to build 42 miles of new distribution line, improve 25 miles of existing distribution line, and make other system improvements.

Montana

  • McCone Electric Cooperative, Inc. – $9,364,000, to build 13 miles of new distribution line, improve 61 miles of existing distribution line, and make other system improvements.
  • Marias River Electric Cooperative, Inc. – $4,260,000, to build 21 miles of new distribution line, improve 12 miles of existing distribution line, and make other system improvements.

Oklahoma

  • Northeast Oklahoma Electric Cooperative – $23,500,000, to build 37 miles of new distribution line, improve 206 miles of existing distribution line, and make other system improvements.

Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas

  • Western Farmers Electric Cooperative – $184,100,000, to finance generation and transmission system improvement projects and new construction; to build 16 miles of new transmission line, and improve 18 miles of existing transmission line.

South Dakota

  • Union County Electric Cooperative, Inc. – $2,690,000, to build 16 miles of new distribution line, make improvements to 26 miles of existing distribution line, and make other system improvements.

Texas

  • Navarro County Electric Cooperative, Inc. – $15,800,000, to build 148 miles of new distribution line, improve 253 miles of existing distribution line, and make other system improvements.

In June, President Obama signed an Executive Order establishing the first White House Rural Council, chaired by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The White House Rural Council will work throughout government to create policies to promote economic prosperity and a high quality of life in our rural communities.

Since taking office, President Obama's Administration has taken significant steps to improve the lives of rural Americans and has provided broad support for rural communities. The Obama Administration has set goals of modernizing infrastructure by providing broadband access to 10 million Americans, expanding educational opportunities for students in rural areas, and providing affordable health care. In the long term, these unparalleled rural investments will help ensure that America's rural communities are repopulating, self-sustaining and thriving economically.

USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of more than $155 billion in loans and loan guarantees. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America.

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