Temple, Texas, Aug 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 Navarro County Electric Cooperative, Inc., a non-profit electric utility company that provides services to portions of Ellis, Navarro, Freestone, Hill and Limestone Counties in Texas. The cooperative was established in the 1930’s to provide service to areas not covered by investor owned utility companies. They will receive a loan for $15,800,000 to build 148 miles of new distribution line, improve 253 miles of existing distribution line, and make other system improvements.
“Electric cooperatives provide a vital service to rural Texas communities,” said Paco Valentin, USDA Rural Development Texas State Director. “The Navarro County Electric Cooperative, Inc. provides a valuable and reliable service to homeowners, farms and businesses.”
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.
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.