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|Release No. 0384.11|
|USDA Office of Communications (202) 720-4623|
|Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Smart Grid, Transmission System Improvements to Create Jobs, Benefit Consumers in 14 States|
WASHINGTON, August 29, 2011 — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that rural electric cooperative utilities will receive funding for smart grid technologies and improvements to generation and transmission facilities. These loans will benefit more than 19,000 rural consumers in 14 states.
"Rural electric cooperatives provide direct jobs and support economic growth in our rural communities," Vilsack said. "By financing electrical system improvements USDA and the Obama Administration helps ensure sustainable growth and business job creation. Investments in smart grid technologies will give rural electric utilities and their consumers one more tool to better manage use of electricity, increase reliability and lower costs."
Among the rural electric cooperative utilities that will receive funding are Hoosier Energy Rural Electric Cooperative, Inc., which serves Indiana and parts of Illinois. Hoosier received a $462.5 million loan to fund system projects to improve reliability and comply with environmental requirements. The loan will also finance smart grid technologies and transmission line improvements.
Northeast Oklahoma Electric Cooperative, Inc., received a of $23.5 million loan to build or improve nearly 250 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The loan includes $1.2 million for automated metering.
The $900 million in loans announced today are provided by USDA Rural Development's Rural Utilities Service (RUS) to help electric utilities upgrade, expand, maintain and replace rural America's electric infrastructure. RUS funding will help build nearly 1,500 miles of line and improve more than 1,700 miles of existing line in rural areas. More than $19 million will finance smart grid technologies. USDA Rural Development also funds energy conservation and renewable energy projects.
The following is a list of rural utilities that were selected to receive USDA funding, which is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the loan agreement.
Illinois and Indiana
Minnesota and Wisconsin
Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas
In June, President Obama signed an Executive Order establishing the first White House Rural Council, chaired by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The White House Rural Council will work throughout government to create policies to promote economic prosperity and a high quality of life in our rural communities.
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 $155 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.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).
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