News Release
Release No.STELPRD4012158
ContactKevin Tuttle715-340-0832
Stevens Point, WI, Aug 31, 2011 --


Kevin Tuttle, Public Information Coordinator

Cell: 715-340-0832

Electric Transmission System Improvements to Create Jobs, Benefit Consumers in Northwest Wisconsin

STEVENS POINT, WI – AUGUST 31, 2011 - - Monday’s announcement by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack that the Rural Utilities Service program has awarded a $50 million guaranteed loan to East Central Energy of Minnesota means an expansion and upgrade of telecommunications services for residents in three Wisconsin counties.  This means better business opportunities and the potential for more jobs in northwest Wisconsin, according to Rural Development State Director Stan Gruszynski.

   East Central Energy, in Braham, Minn., was selected for funding to build 177 miles of new distribution lines, upgrade 158 miles of existing distribution lines, and make improvements to generation and transmission facilities. This loan will benefit rural consumers in Burnett, Douglas and Washburn counties.      

     “This funding will directly impact residents in northwest Wisconsin by fostering growth, creating new business opportunities, and expanding job potential. State of the art telecommunications are critical to the future of rural communities,” Gruszynski said.  “The Obama Administration has put an emphasis on rebuilding the economic prosperity of rural communities and this loan moves northwestern Wisconsin in the right direction by helping three Wisconsin counties critical to the economic viability of the region.”

  The $900 million in loans announced Monday 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 including improvements to infrastructure, community facilities, and telecommunications.

     USDA Rural Development’s mission is to deliver programs in a way that will support increasing economic opportunity and improve the quality of life of rural residents. As the lead federal agency for rural development needs, USDA Rural Development returned nearly $936 million dollars this past year to rural Wisconsin communities. Funds are used to finance and foster growth in homeownership, business development, and critical community and technological infrastructures. Further information on USDA Rural Development programs is available at a local USDA Rural Development office or by visiting the web site at