The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $122m in five states including Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Oklahoma and South Dakota, to expand and upgrade rural electric systems.
USDA said that the funding includes more than $7m to finance smart grid technologies to improve system operations and monitor grid security. The department is investing in seven projects through funds from the Electric Loan Program.
With the loans, about 1551km of line will either built or improved to benefit more than 6,200 businesses and residential customers.
West River Electric Association in South Dakota will receive $30m loan to build or improve 262km of line, serve 1049 new customers and finance $2.4m in smart grid technologies including computer applications, two-way machine-to-machine communications, geospatial information systems and other tools to increase the reliability and efficiency of electric power systems.
Southern Indiana Rural Electric Cooperative will receive $10.5m loan to build or improve nearly 148km of line for improved system operations for 600 rural consumers. The loan will include more than $1.5m for smart grid technologies.
The electric cooperative services 9,300 consumers over 2,644km of line across five counties. It serves both agricultural and industrial customers including woodworking, furniture manufacturing, logging, rock quarrying, coal mining, crude oil production and manufacturing of steel products.
Acting Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Joel Baxley said: “Modern and reliable electric infrastructure is foundational to building prosperity in rural America. Under the leadership of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, USDA is committed to being a strong partner in improving this essential infrastructure.”
Last November, the agriculture department announced that it will invest $1.6bn in 46 projects across 24 states to improve rural electric infrastructure, operations and reliability of electricity.
As per the department, funding will help in building or improving nearly 9,387km of electric line. Out of the $1.6bn, $307m will be invested in smartgrid technologies. It was stated that the funding could benefit more than seven million customers.
And, last September, the agency announced $398.5m funding across 13 states, benefiting 347,000 electrical consumers.