Columbia, MO, Jul 22, 2013 -- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced funding for rural electric projects to provide reliable, affordable electricity for rural residents. USDA remains focused on carrying out its mission, despite a time of significant budget uncertainty. The announcement is one part of the Department's efforts to strengthen the rural economy.
“Funding for rural electric utilities helps ensure the reliability of rural electric service, which is critical for investment and economic growth in rural areas,” Vilsack said. “USDA’s financial support of rural electric utilities’ smart grid technologies will continue to increase grid efficiencies and bring more jobs to rural America.”
USDA Rural Development’s support for rural electric utilities benefits an average of 8.6 million rural electric consumers annually. Smart grid technology is another tool to increase efficiency and reliability of the rural electric system. Since 2011, Rural Utilities Service borrowers have used USDA funding to invest nearly $464 million in smart grid improvements, providing for more strategic management of the rural electric system.
Missouri Rural Development State Director Janie Dunning commented, “Rural communities in Missouri depend upon available and affordable electricity provided through local cooperatives. Economic and community development are enhanced with access to cost effective and reliable sources of electricity. Electricity is essential to businesses and homes. Both benefit from improved capabilities and capacities offered by electricity. We are excited by the announcement and the improvements to be undertaken by the two Missouri cooperatives receiving funds.”
The funding includes more than $188 million in loan guarantees to upgrade rural electric infrastructure, including more than $18 million in smart grid funding. The funding will help finance the construction of more than 1,000 miles of new or improved electric line.
In Missouri, Central Electric Power Cooperative, headquartered in Jefferson City, received $59.1 million. Funds will be used to build two new substations, improve 21 miles of transmission line and make other system improvements. The loan amount includes $13.8 million for smart grid projects. Citizens Electric Corporation, located in Perryville, secured $30 million. Funds will be used to serve 1,654 consumers, build 89 miles of distribution and 13 miles of transmission line and make other system improvements. The loan amount includes $357,420 for smart grid 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, 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 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 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 the Department 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 $828 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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