Lincoln, Nebraska, Sep 11, 2012 -- In June 2011, the Obama Administration announced a set of new initiatives designed to modernize the Nation’s electric infrastructure, bolster electric-grid innovation, and advance a clean energy economy.
During that announcement the Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack charged USDA with the goal of investing $250 million in smart-grid technology across the country. A year later, we are happy to report that USDA has met that goal.
Under the Department’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS) we have administered loans to rural cooperatives to help modernize our smart grid technologies. RUS has a long history of contributing to our country’s reliable infrastructure. Since 1936, the program has become the primary lender to more than 600 rural electric systems including electric cooperatives, public power systems, and tribal utilities.
“This is one more step in our effort to modernize rural America’s electric grid,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Smart grid technologies give consumers greater control over their electric costs and help utilities efficiently manage power generation and delivery.” Since fiscal year 2011, USDA has funded more than $250 million in smart grid projects serving rural consumers nationwide. This will further enable rural utilities to make efficiency improvements to the electric grid that will help consumers lower their electric bills by reducing energy use in homes and businesses.
According to President Obama’s Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future, this $250 million investment in loan funds for smart grid 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 help consumers and entrepreneurs make informed decisions. 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 help Americans save money on their electricity bills.
For example, the Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, Inc. was awarded a nearly $140.5 million loan to build 50 miles of transmission line and make upgrades to the existing generation and transmission facilities. The loan amount includes nearly $21.8 million in smart grid projects and close to $809,000 in environmental improvements. This project serves the states of Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Wyoming.
Since taking office, the President’s goal has been to ensure a cleaner, safer, and more secure energy future, and one that ultimately breaks our dependence on foreign oil and moves our nation toward a clean energy economy that creates jobs and keeps America competitive. For more information on President Obama’s Policy Framework for the 21st Century Gird, please visit http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ostp/nstc-smart-grid-june2011.pdf.
Nebraska’s Rural Development office is dedicated modernizing Nebraska electric grid and investing in transformational technologies which entrepreneurs here in Nebraska can bring to market.