US federal gov funds smart grid upgrades in rural areas


The US Department of Agriculture will make $202 million in loans to electric cooperatives in nine states to help modernize their electric grids.

The loans include $14.7 million for smart grid technology similar to what already exists in Chattanooga, and are expected to help create jobs and support new technology.

Tennessee will receive $20 million to build or improve 166 miles (267 km)of line and make other system improvements. The loan includes $1.3 million for smart grid improvements, according to Times Free Press.

EPB Chattanooga received a $111.6 million federal grant to build its grid. The total cost however, amounts to $369 million, according to a Harvard study.

After its rollout of the new electric grid, which is undergirded by fiber-optic cable, Chattanooga’s city-owned utility, EPB, began offering TV and Internet service, including the Western Hemisphere’s first citywide gigabit service. [Californian city to upgrade water infrastructure with USDA funding]

Smart grid grants

Other states that received grants to expand their smart grid projects include Kansas, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas.

In Kansas, the Twin Valley Electric Cooperative received $8 million to build or improve 44 miles (70km) of line. The loan includes $41,800 for Smart Grid projects.

Red River Valley Rural Electric Association in Oklahoma received $4.7 million to build or improve 22 (35 km) miles of line.

South Carolina’s Aiken Electric Cooperative received $44 million to build or improve 342 miles (550 km) of line and make other system improvements. Nearly $9 million will be invested in smart grid projects, while Comanche County Electric Cooperative in Texas has allocated approximately $2.6 million will support smart grid projects. [USDA expands utility assistance in rural communities]