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USDA Awards Funding to Give 20,000 Rural Residents in 13 States Electricity and Smart Grid Technology

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April 07, 2011

USDA Awards Funding to Give 20,000 Rural Residents in 13 States Electricity and Smart Grid Technology

By Cheryl Kaften
TMCnet Contributor

U.S. Agricultural Secretary Tom Vilsack announced this week that, as part of his agency’s Rural Development program, 10 electric cooperatives and utilities have been awarded a total of $376 million in funding to connect nearly 20,000 residents in 13 states to America’s power infrastructure and smart grid technology.


When the projects are complete, the companies will have installed 723 miles of distribution line and 51 miles of transmission line, and will have repaired 604 miles of distribution line. In addition, nearly $14 million of the funding has been earmarked for smart grid technology, such as advanced metering, which can provide data to consumers and utilities to better manage power use and costs.

As a result of this concerted effort to deliver “power to the people,” many rural communities will gain the ability to become self-sustaining and competitive in the national and global markets.

 Vilsack elaborated, “This funding will lay the foundation for sustainable economic growth by out-building and out-innovating our competition to build a more robust rural economy. The investments rural electric cooperatives make in infrastructure and smart grid technology highlights the importance of innovation in ensuring a constant and affordable supply of electricity."

The following is a list of rural utilities that were awarded funding, which is contingent upon the borrowers meeting the conditions in the loan agreement.

Carroll Electric Cooperative Corporation – $109,406,000. Funds will be used to connect 8,920 new consumers in Arkansas and Missouri, build 268 miles of new distribution line and 22 miles of transmission line, and make other system improvements.

Navopache Electric Cooperative, Inc. – $49,329,000. Funds will be used to connect 2,640 new consumers in Arizona and New Mexico, build 93 miles of new distribution line, make improvements to 36 miles of distribution line, and make other system improvements, including $5.8 million in smart grid technologies.

Poudre Valley Rural Electric Association – $43,246,000. Funds will be used to connect 2,069 new consumers in Colorado, build 54 miles of new distribution line, make improvements to 186 miles of distribution line, and make other system improvements, including $6.7 million in smart grid technologies.

Georgia Transmission Corporation – $75,327,000. Funds will be used for transmission system projects to build 21 miles of new transmission line and three new substations in Georgia, Alabama, and Florida.

Southern Pioneer Electric Company – $30,000,000. Funds will be used to connect 480 consumers in Kansas, build 18 miles of new distribution line and 8 miles of transmission line, and make other system improvements, including $825,000 in smart grid technologies.

Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative – $37,000,000. Funds will be used to serve 3,691 consumers in Maryland, build 155 miles of new distribution line, make improvements to 71 miles of existing distribution line, and make other system improvements.

Beltrami Electric Company – $9,057,000. Funds will be used to connect 602 Minnesota consumers, build 46 miles of new distribution line, make improvements to 56 miles of distribution line, and make other system improvements, including $185,500 in smart grid technologies.

Ozark Electric Cooperative – $10,000,000. Funds will be used to connect 605 Missouri consumers, build 52 miles of distribution line, and make other system improvements.

Grundy Electric Cooperative – $2,000,000. Funds will be used to connect 79 consumers in Missouri and Iowa, build 4 miles of distribution line, and make other system improvements.

Dakota Energy Cooperative, Inc. – $10,695,000. Funds will be used in South Dakota to connect 253 consumers, build 51 miles of distribution line, make improvements to 255 miles of distribution line, and make other system improvements, including $175,904 in smart grid technologies.

USDA Rural Development has a $115 billion portfolio of loans and will administer $20 billion in loans, loan guarantees and grants through its programs in the current fiscal year.  Go to http://www.rurdev.usda.gov  for additional information about the agency's programs or to locate the USDA Rural Development office nearest you.


Cheryl Kaften is an accomplished communicator who has written for consumer and corporate audiences. She has worked extensively for MasterCard (News - Alert) Worldwide, Philip Morris USA (Altria), and KPMG, and has consulted for Estee Lauder and the Philadelphia Inquirer Newspapers. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Janice McDuffee
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