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|Release No. 0406.11|
|USDA Office of Communications (202) 720-4623|
|Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Funding To Create Jobs, Improve Rural Electric Infrastructure|
WASHINGTON, September 15, 2011 — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that 27 rural electric cooperative utilities will receive funding for generation and transmission projects, distribution facilities and smart grid technologies. These loans will create jobs and finance rural electric utility improvements benefiting more than 28,000 rural customers in 18 states.
"Improving the electric infrastructure in rural areas creates jobs by ensuring that businesses have reliable and affordable power supplies," Vilsack said. "Electric cooperatives are leaders in rural economic development by helping rural areas retain existing jobs and attract new ones."
Vilsack also noted that USDA Rural Development is providing more than $35 million to finance smart grid technologies – such as advanced metering infrastructure – that utilities use to better manage electric supply and demand. Rural Development Under Secretary Dallas Tonsager made the announcement today on Vilsack's behalf during a speech in Minneapolis at a regional meeting of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.
For example, Renville-Sibley Cooperative Power Association in Minnesota is receiving an $8.6 million loan to build or improve 42 miles of line. It will use $1.1 million for smart grid projects, including automated metering infrastructure and a geographic information system to increase mapping data accuracy. Also in Minnesota, Freeborn-Mower is receiving a $3 million loan invest in more 80 miles of new or improved line and implement smart grid technologies, including automated metering infrastructure and load management systems.
The $603 million in loans are being 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 or improve nearly 5,000 miles of distribution line and more than 100 miles of transmission line. USDA Rural Development also funds energy conservation and renewable energy projects.
On September 8, President Obama presented the American Jobs Act in an address to Congress. The purpose of the American Jobs Act is simple: put more people back to work and put more money in the pockets of working Americans. The American Jobs Act is specific. It will put people back to work right now, and it will not add to the deficit. Through a combination of direct spending, such as infrastructure investments, and tax relief, such as an extension of the payroll tax cuts, it will lead to new American jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 21 direct or indirect jobs are created for each $1 million invested in infrastructure.
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
The following is a list of rural utilities that were selected to receive USDA funding. Funding is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the loan agreement.
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. 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. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of more than $155 billion in loans and loan guarantees. Visit http://www.rurdev.usda.gov for additional information about the agency's programs or to locate the USDA Rural Development office nearest you.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).
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