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U.S. Agriculture Department to fund rural smart grid projects

To improve their electric lines and transmission facilities, and to reduce peak electric loads, rural electric utilities in 18 U.S. states will receive loan guarantees from the Department of Agriculture to deploy smart grid technologies.

Amounting to nearly $29 million, the announced funding is inching closer to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s goal to fund more than $250 million for smart grid technologies. With that factored in, the department is set to invest more than $420 million in rural electric infrastructure.

"Maintaining and upgrading rural electric systems improves system reliability, creates jobs and supports economic development," Mr. Vilsack said. "With these loans, we are continuing to help cooperatives provide reliable service to rural residents.”

A total of 16 utilities spread across the states of Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, New York, Oklahoma, Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Texas and Virginia would get funding.

Loans to be given will range from more than $7 million to north of $60 million per utility, including the amount set for the smart grid improvements.

The department’s Rural Development mission area has an active portfolio of more than $170 billion in loans and loan guarantees, designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers, and improve the quality of life in the rural United States. – EcoSeed Staff

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