Topeka, KS, Apr 11, 2013 -- USDA Rural Development State Director Patty Clark announced funding for a Kansas rural electric cooperative that will improve electric reliability in rural southeast Kansas. USDA remains focused on carrying out its mission, despite a time of significant budget uncertainty. Today’s announcement is one part of the Department’s efforts to strengthen the rural economy.
“USDA Rural Development has a strong commitment to improving infrastructure in rural Kansas by offering low-interest financing to rural utility cooperatives, which are a part of the federally supported Rural Utilities Service,” stated Clark. “Financing provided by the federal government to rural electric cooperatives assists in updating electrical infrastructure. With this federal assistance, our rural electric cooperatives can continue to provide affordable and reliable energy to rural Kansans.”
The Heartland Rural Electric Cooperative, Inc., based in Girard, is receiving a $15.2 million USDA guaranteed loan. The cooperative serves nearly 12,000 residents in Allen, Anderson, Bourbon, Cherokee, Coffey, Crawford, Labette, Linn, Miami, Neosho, Wilson and Woodson Counties. USDA funds will be used to build 242 miles of distribution line that will serve 733 customers and make other system improvements.
The USDA loan includes $192,100 in financing for smart grid projects, which are projects that utilize technology to make efficiency improvements to the electric grid. In 2001, the Heartland Cooperative installed hardware at each of the cooperative’s substations to communicate with each of its 11,491 meters. Hardware at 17 locations is scheduled to be replaced over the next four years in an effort to maintain reliability and improve communications with the cooperative’s meters.
Heartland Rural Electric Cooperative Chief Executive Officer Dale Coomes said, “The upgrades will result in more reliable service to our members as we replace aging infrastructure and improve our ability to utilize alternate feeds of power during outages and emergencies. USDA’s Rural Utilities Service has been a long-time lender for our cooperative, and its ability to consider and approve our loan application in a timely manner was a big consideration for our board of directors.”
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, has a portfolio of programs designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America.
USDA has made a concerted effort to deliver results for the American people, even as USDA implements sequestration – the across-the-board budget reductions mandated under terms of the Budget Control Act. USDA has already undertaken historic efforts since 2009 to save more than $700 million in taxpayer funds through targeted, common-sense budget reductions. These reductions have put USDA in a better position to carry out its mission, while implementing sequester budget reductions in a fair manner that causes as little disruption as possible.
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