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USDA Invests $2.5 Billion in Rural Electric Infrastructure
South Dakota Ag Connection - 11/14/2017

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced that USDA is investing $2.5 billion in rural electric infrastructure improvements to help create jobs and support economic development in 27 states.

"These significant investments will help develop and maintain modern, reliable electric infrastructure that businesses and rural communities need in a 21st Century economy," Perdue said. "The loans I am announcing today will help utilities and cooperatives build new transmission and distribution lines, upgrade networks and facilities, and better manage the power grid."

The funding will support infrastructure improvements in Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming. The loans are being provided through USDA Rural Development's Electric Program, which is the successor to the Rural Electrification Administration.

"We are extremely pleased that USDA is making such a major investment in rural development and infrastructure through new loans to America's electric cooperatives," said Jim Matheson, CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. "USDA is an important partner helping us illuminate rural America and empower the communities we serve. That partnership is critical to co-ops' ability to maintain, expand and improve rural electric infrastructure."

In South Dakota, Southeastern Electric Co-op Inc. is receiving a $47.2 million USDA loan to build 180 miles, improve 394 miles of line and make other system improvements. The loan includes $521,944 for smart grid projects and West Central Electric Co-op is receiving a $11.9 million USDA loan to build 36 miles, improve 106 miles of line and make other system improvements. The loan includes $48,544 for smart grid projects.

Smart grid includes technological enhancements such as metering, substation automation, computer applications, two-way communications and geospatial information systems to help utilities increase the reliability and efficiency of electric power systems. Today's loans include $127 million for smart grid projects.

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