USDA is investing $309 million in 16 projects to improve rural electric infrastructure in 12 states.
“Robust, modern infrastructure is a foundation for quality of life and economic opportunity no matter the zip code in which you live,” said Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett.
Hazlett made the announcement during a visit to the Central Iowa Power Cooperative. One of its members, Farmers Electric Cooperative in Greenfield, Iowa, is receiving a $1.4 million USDA loan to invest in smart grid projects. Farmers plans to install more than 5,800 single-phase meters and additional meter reading equipment in its west-central Iowa service area.
Hazlett also announced that Harrison County REC, in Woodbine, Iowa, is receiving a $6 million loan to build 20 miles of electric line, improve 57 miles and make other system improvements. Its loan includes $578,000 for smart grid projects.
The loans are being made through USDA’s Electric Infrastructure Loan and Loan Guarantee program. It helps finance generation, transmission and distribution projects; system improvements; and energy conservation projects in communities with 10,000 or fewer residents.
Farmers Electric Cooperative and Harrison County REC join many other rural electric cooperatives and utilities that partner with USDA to use smart grid for computer applications, two-way communications, geospatial information systems and other tools to increase the reliability and efficiency of electric power systems.
The investments will build or improve 1,660 miles of electric line serving rural homes, farms and businesses. USDA is funding infrastructure improvements for utilities in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, North Carolina, New Mexico, Ohio, South Dakota and Washington.