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May 07, 2012

Rural Americans Are No Longer 'Poles Apart' from Smart Grid Connectivity



Pity all of the survivalists who want to live off the grid. It’s getting more difficult to stay disconnected every day. Just last week, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced USDA Rural Development’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS) would dedicate $334 million in funding to helping upgrade, expand, maintain and replace America’s electric infrastructure.

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With this initiative, USDA Rural Development moves closer to realizing Secretary Vilsack's goal of picking up the tab for more than $250 million worth of smart grid technologies. The May 4 announcement, alone, comprises support for nearly $20 million in next-generation electric infrastructure.

In Kentucky, for example, Cumberland Valley Electric has been selected to receive a $17.6-million guaranteed loan, including $2.2 million in smart grid development. Funds will be used to build and improve 100 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements.

"A 21st century electric grid is essential to America's ability to create jobs in the clean energy economy of the future." Vilsack said. "These investments enable consumers and businesses to better manage their use of electricity and help maintain affordable rates. Building transmission infrastructure that employs smart grid technologies will make it easier to add renewable sources of electricity into the grid and also improve reliability."

The following is a list of rural utilities that will receive USDA funding, contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the loan agreement.

Jackson Electric Membership Corporation  (Georgia) – $102.8 million in funding will be used to serve 8,656 consumers, build and improve 855 miles of distribution line, and make other system improvements. The loan includes $7,218,525 in smart grid projects.

Nolin Rural Electric Cooperative Corporation (Kentucky) – $12, million in funding will be used to construct and improve 102 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The loan also includes $543,087 for smart grid projects.

Cumberland Valley Electric, Inc. – $17.6 million in funding will be used to build and improve 100 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The loan includes $2.2 million in smart grid projects.

Minnesota Valley Electric Cooperative (Minnesota) – $18.5 million in funding will be used to build and improve 101 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The loan also includes $5.9 million in smart grid projects.

Missouri Rural Electric Cooperative (Minnesota) – $3 million in funding will be used to build and improve 44 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements.

Atchison-Holt Electric Cooperative (Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska) – $5million in funding will be used to build and improve 62 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements.

Panhandle Rural Electric Membership Association (Nebraska) – $7.8 million in funding will be used to serve 113 consumers, build, and improve 49 miles of distribution line, and make other system improvements. The loan amount includes $1.8 million in smart grid projects.

North Carolina Electric Membership Corporation (North Carolina) – $33.8 million in funding will be used to finance capital improvements at the Catawba nuclear Station Units 1 and 2.

Southeastern Electric Cooperative, Inc. (Oklahoma) – $4. 8 million in funding will be used to build and improve 26 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements.

Northern Neck Electric Cooperative (Virginia) – $14.3 milli8on in funding will be used to build and improve 88 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The loan includes $1.1 million for smart grid projects.

Public Utility District No. 1 of Jefferson County (Washington) – $115.5 million in funding will be used to build and improve 825 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The loan amount includes $99,000 in smart grid projects.

USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of more than $165 billion in loans and loan guarantees. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America.




Edited by Braden Becker
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