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|Release No. 0085.12|
|USDA Office of Communications (202) 720-4623|
|Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Funding To Improve Rural Electric Infrastructure and Make the 'Grid' More Reliable and Efficient|
|Almost $25 Million in Smart Grid Technology Projects to be Included|
SAN DIEGO, Calif., March 7, 2012 — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that rural electric cooperative utilities in eight states will receive funding to install smart grid technologies and make improvements to generation and transmission facilities. The announcement was made on the Secretary's behalf by Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager during the 2012 National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) Annual Meeting in San Diego.
"President Obama is taking an all-of-the-above approach to meet our energy challenges by developing new domestic energy sources, expanding oil and gas production, and reducing our overall reliance on oil through fuel efficiencies and renewable energy development," Vilsack said. "By supporting electrical system improvements, the Obama Administration is not only improving the reliability of America's electric grid, it's creating jobs and promoting business expansion. These investments in smart grid technologies give rural electric utilities and their consumers one more tool to better manage their use of electricity, improve efficiency, increase reliability of the electric grid and lower overall costs."
In less than a year, USDA Rural Development is more than halfway toward reaching Secretary Vilsack's goal to fund more than $250 million for Smart Grid technologies. Today's announcement includes support for about $25 million in Smart Grid technologies.
Examples of funding announced today include the Roanoke Electric Membership Corporation in Ahoskie, NC. It will receive a $16.8 million guaranteed loan to fund system improvement projects to enhance reliability. The loan will also finance smart grid technologies and transmission line improvements. In Laurel, Miss., Dixie Electric Power Association will receive a $29 million loan to build or improve 301 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The loan includes $8.9 million for automated metering.
The $201 million in loans announced today are provided by USDA Rural Development's Rural Utilities Service (RUS). The funding helps electric utilities upgrade, expand, maintain and replace rural America's electric infrastructure. USDA Rural Development also funds energy conservation and renewable energy projects.
The following is a list of rural utilities that will receive USDA funding, which is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the loan agreement.
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 $165 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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