Topeka, Kansas, Sep 07, 2012 -- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA has reached its $250 million goal to finance smart grid technologies that help modernize our nation’s electric system. Vilsack also announced nine rural electric cooperatives and utilities in 10 states including Kansas will receive loan guarantees to make improvements to generation and transmission facilities and implement smart grid technologies.
“USDA Rural Development partners with rural electric cooperatives to provide rural Kansans with affordable and reliable energy,” stated USDA Rural Development State Director Patty Clark. “USDA provides federal funding to finance critical infrastructure projects for Kansas electric cooperatives, which helps cooperatives improve services for their rural customers.”
Today’s announcement includes support for more than $27 million in smart grid technologies, which help utilities make efficiency improvements to the electric grid and help consumers lower their electric bills by reducing energy use in homes and businesses.
Vilsack said this $250 million investment in loan funds for smart grid technologies means infrastructure investment at virtually no cost to the taxpayer. These technologies will facilitate the integration of renewable sources of electricity into the grid, help avoid blackouts and restore power quicker when outages occur, and reduce the need for new power plants. Smart grid technologies also provide a foundation for innovation by entrepreneurs and others who can develop tools to empower consumers and help them make informed decisions. A first generation of innovative consumer products and services—such as thermostats that can be controlled from a smart phone, or websites that show how much energy a house is using—can continue to help Americans save money on their electricity bills.
The Ark Valley Electric Cooperative Association, Inc., located in South Hutchinson, Kan., is receiving a $6.13 million loan guarantee. The utility plans to build and upgrade 355 miles of distribution line in its nine county service area and make other system improvements. The loan amount includes $2.01 million in smart grid projects, which includes funding for automatic metering infrastructure.
“Ark Valley is a cooperative association created and owned by its consumers in order to get central station electricity to rural areas. Building and maintaining the infrastructure of overhead power lines is a very capital intensive business, and requires being able to borrow money for construction,” said Bob Hall, Manger of the Ark Valley Electric Cooperative Association. “Our rural residents appreciate the U.S. Department of Agriculture giving us such loan guarantees that make it all possible.”
The $269 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.
Other electric cooperatives receiving USDA funding, which is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the loan agreement include:
Colorado/ Nebraska/ New Mexico/ Wyoming
• Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, Inc. – $140,483,000 loan. Funds will be used to build 50 miles of transmission line and make upgrades to the existing generation and transmission facilities. The loan amount includes $21,756,000 in smart grid projects and $808,780 in environmental improvements.
• Stearns Cooperative Electric Association – $23,654,000 loan. The cooperative will improve 147 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The loan amount includes $974,085 in smart grid projects.
• Agralite Electric Cooperative – $5,159,000 loan. Funds will be used to build and improve 61 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The loan amount includes $180,968 in smart grid projects.
• Northeast Missouri Electric Power Cooperative – $30,093,000 loan. Funds will be used to build and improve 24 miles of transmission line, build three new substations and make other improvements. The loan amount includes $500,000 in smart grid projects.
• Edgecombe-Martin County Electric Membership Corporation – $6,410,000 loan. The cooperative will build and improve 310 miles of distribution line and 2 miles of transmission line and make other system improvements. The loan amount includes $1,084,728 in smart grid projects.
• Piedmont Electric Membership Corporation – $30,000,000 loan. Funds will be used to build and improve 108 miles of distribution line and 5 miles of transmission line and make other system improvements.
• Brunswick Electric Membership Corporation – $21,500,000 loan. Funds will be used to build and improve 220 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements.
• Chippewa Valley Electric Cooperative – $6,000,000 loan. Funds will be used to build and improve 88 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The loan amount includes $255,833 in smart grid projects.
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 $172 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.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).