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The US Department of Agriculture has announced $398.5 million in funding to improve rural electric service in 13 states.

The funding is being issued through the Electric Infrastructure Loan Programme.

Anne Hazlett, Assistant Secretary for Rural Development, said: “Reliable and affordable electricity is undeniably a necessity in today’s world.”

The funding will help improve the quality of life in rural communities in Arkansas, Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia.

A total of $43.7 million will be directed towards smart grid technologies and infrastructure including computer applications, two-way machine-to-machine communications, geospatial information systems and other tools to increase the reliability and efficiency of electric power systems.

The funding is centred around three key areas including infrastructure, partnerships and innovation.

Southside Electric Cooperative in Virginia will use a $47.7 million loan to add 2,578 customers to the grid, expand energy transportation lines and develop smart grid capabilities.

In Indiana, Marshall County REMC is receiving a $9.5 million loan to build 11 miles of line, improve 59 miles and make other system improvements.