USDA announces $276 million rural infrastructure investment

Published on March 15, 2018 by Kevin Randolph

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U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced Tuesday that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $276 million in rural electric infrastructure to enhance system efficiency and reliability.

The investment will build approximately 1,000 miles of new line and upgrade 733 miles of existing line to meet current and future needs. The investment will support $65 million in smart grid technologies to help rural electric utilities reduce outages and integrate new systems.

“Investing in our nation’s electric infrastructure is fundamental for rural economic growth,” Perdue said. “USDA’s longstanding partnerships with rural electric cooperatives help ensure that rural areas have affordable, reliable electric service. These investments also increase efficiency and productivity for businesses and residents, and support the quality of life in rural America.”

Investments are being made in Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, and Virginia.

The loan guarantees are provided through USDA Rural Development’s Electric Program, which is the successor to the Rural Electrification Administration.

President Donald Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity in April 2017. In January 2018, Secretary Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings to President Trump.

The findings included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local, and tribal governments, including increasing investments in rural infrastructure.