Lexington, KY, Jul 11, 2012 -- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that rural electric cooperatives and utilities in 15 states will receive loan guarantees to make improvements to generation and transmission facilities and implement smart grid technologies.
“Maintaining and upgrading rural electric systems creates jobs and supports economic development,” Vilsack said. “These loans I am announcing today will have a lasting impact on the rural landscape for generations to come. They will help ensure that rural areas can retain existing businesses, support new ones and have reliable, up-to-date infrastructure.”
With this funding, USDA Rural Development moves closer to reaching Secretary Vilsack's goal to fund more than $250 million for smart grid technologies. Today's announcement includes support for more than $10 million in smart grid technologies that help utility companies make efficiency improvements to the electric grid and help consumers lower their electric bills by reducing energy use in homes and businesses.
State Director Tom Fern said the Licking Valley Rural Electric Cooperative Corporation in Kentucky will use funds to build and improve 186 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The Coop provides service to customers in Elliott, Breathitt, Lee, Magoffin, Menifee, Morgan and Wolfe counties. The $19.7 million loan guarantee includes $689,227 in smart grid projects. Funding is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the loan agreement.
“Utility services are the foundation of rural infrastructure and the Kentucky project approved this week will help in the development and commercialization of vital utility services in those rural communities,” said Tom Fern, State Director for Rural Development. “These investments support long-term prosperity by ensuring that rural communities have the basic infrastructure to become self-sustaining with the ability to compete in the global economy.”
The $287 million in loan guarantees announced today are provided by USDA Rural Development's Rural Utilities Service (RUS). The funding helps electric utilities upgrade, expand, maintain and replace rural America's electric infrastructure. USDA Rural Development also funds energy conservation and renewable energy projects.
Since taking office, the Obama 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 programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an active portfolio of more than $170 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 areas.
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