Story originally posted at America's Electric Cooperatives
Electric cooperatives across 25 states will receive more than $2 billion in loans and loan guarantees from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to install smart grid technologies and upgrade their infrastructure. NRECA said it will help maintain and strengthen reliability of the electric grid.
The loans and loan guarantees to more than 50 electric co-ops are through USDA Rural Development’s Electric Program. In total, USDA is providing $2.5 billion to electric infrastructure projects in rural areas.
“These significant investments will help develop and maintain modern, reliable electric infrastructure that businesses and rural communities need in a 21st century economy,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in his Nov. 2 announcement.
NRECA CEO Jim Matheson noted that “every business, farm, home and school has one essential need in common: access to reliable power. That common denominator is a foundational strength of the entire American economy, an important fact recognized by USDA.”
“As policymakers consider ways to improve the country’s aging infrastructure, it is critical that rural America not be left behind,” Matheson added, calling USDA “an important partner” for electric co-ops.
“That partnership is critical to co-ops’ ability to maintain, expand and improve rural electric infrastructure,” he said.