|Funding Includes more Than $6 million for Smart Grid Projects, Improves Service to Native Americans in the Upper Midwest|
WASHINGTON, April 10, 2013 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced funding for projects to improve electric service in rural areas across 13 states. 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 Deputy Under Secretary Doug O'Brien made today's announcement on Vilsack's behalf.
"The partnership between USDA and rural electric utilities helps to improve service to customers and has made it easier for rural businesses to expand and create jobs," Vilsack said. "As part of President Obama's plan to improve the rural economy, we will continue to fund projects that increase system reliability. We also promote the expansion of 'smart grid' technology which cuts peak demands and improves system reliability."
Today's announcement will provide nearly $280 million for rural electric infrastructure, including more than $6 million in smart grid funding, which increases access to information to better manage electricity use. In addition, these funds will result in the construction of more than 1,900 miles of new or improved electric line.
One of the rural electric cooperatives selected for funding is the Mor-Gran-Sou Electric Cooperative, Inc. It will receive a $15 million loan to build 125 miles of distribution line and four miles of transmission line, and make other system improvements for Native American and other customers in North and South Dakota. The loan amount includes $447,452 for smart grid projects.
In Minnesota, the Wild Rice Electric Cooperative, Inc. will receive a $12 million loan to build more than 106 miles of distribution line and fund $680,000 for smart grid projects. This project will improve service to many Native American customers.
The following is a complete list of rural electric cooperative utilities that will receive USDA funding, contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the loan agreement.
Georgia, Alabama and Florida
North Dakota and South Dakota
South Carolina and North Carolina
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 Tom 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 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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