Washington, Aug 09, 2012 -- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that rural electric utilities in 18 states, including Idaho, Washington, and Oregon, will receive loan guarantees to make improvements to electric lines, transmission facilities and to reduce peak electric loads by deploying smart grid technologies, including Clearwater Power Company (CWP), a rural electric utility based out of Lewiston, Idaho, will receive a $13.5 million loan to build and improve 132 miles of distribution line and five miles of transmission line, and make other system improvements.
CWP is an electric cooperative with 8,000 members and serves 11 counties in three states (Benewah, Clearwater, Idaho, Latah, Lewis, Nez Perce, Shoshone in Idaho; Asotin, Garfield, Whitman in Washington; and Wallowa in Oregon.)
“Maintaining and upgrading rural electric systems improves system reliability, creates jobs and supports economic development,” Vilsack said. “With these loans, we are continuing to help cooperatives provide reliable service to rural residents. A significant portion of this funding will go to smart grid technologies, helping consumers lower their electric bills and reducing peak demand for producers.”
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 nearly $29 million in smart grid projects. In all, USDA is investing more than $420 million in rural electric infrastructure.
Funding is provided by USDA Rural Development’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS). The loans help electric utilities upgrade, expand, maintain and replace rural America’s electric infrastructure. USDA Rural Development also supports energy conservation and renewable energy projects.
President Obama’s plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President’s leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America’s economy and strengthening small towns and rural communities. USDA’s investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values. President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack are committed to a smarter use of Federal resources to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, 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 America.
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