USDA Announces Energy Project Loans

power grid electricity
The USDA will be funding four electric projects across several states. The goal of this initiative is to generate reliable and affordable electricity for citizens in some of the nation’s most rural areas.

According to the USDA’s press release, this is just one part of an overall effort to strengthen the rural economy of the country.

Tom Vilsack, the Secretary of Agriculture, announced that these projects would add increased efficiency to the country’s electrical grid while also adding to the impressive history of the USDA’s Rural Utilities Service.

In total, the project will use $126 million in commercial loans to upgrade infrastructure in the electrical grids of rural states. An additional $20 million will be used to develop smart grid funding. These funds will create new or improved electric lines.

The eight states that will benefit from these funds are Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico, Wyoming, Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio and Texas.

The Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, Inc. will receive $72.9 in commercial loans towards the upgrading of power generation and transmission facilities across Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico and Wyoming.

In Georgia and North Carolina, the Blue Ridge Mountain Electric Membership Corporation will receive $28.1 million towards distribution and system improvements.

The Logan County Cooperative Power and Light Association, Inc. will receive $4.5 million in commercial loans for distribution line improvements in Ohio.

In Texas and New Mexico, the Rio Grande Electric Cooperative, Inc. will receive over $20.9 million in commercial loans to build several hundred miles of distribution lines.

Candice Celestin, spokeswoman for the USDA, told that these companies were approved for commercial loans rather than randomly awarded or handed grants.

“The borrower submits a loan request and it is reviewed for financial and technical feasibility, environmental compliance and other requirements before the loan committee and the RUS administrator approves funding,” she said.

Celestin also said that the loans were made for the lifetime of the equipment that the energy companies purchased. This new equipment will be instrumental in helping to develop the nation’s smart grid, which will feature more robust energy reliability.

“Smart grid technologies provide both utilities and consumers the ability to send and receive information that can increase reliability and efficiency of the system,” she said. “For example, in the event of an outage, an electric utility can more quickly identify and remedy the loss of power.”