USDA announces $858 million in rural electricity funding


US Acting Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Joel Baxley has announced that the department will be providing $858 million in loans to upgrade rural electric systems in 17 states.

The funding includes $64 million to finance smart grid technologies that improve system operations and monitor grid security.

“Investing in our nation’s electric infrastructure powers our economy, creates jobs and helps deliver services such as education, training and health care to build stronger rural communities,” Baxley said. “These loans will help rural electric cooperatives generate and distribute power to keep systems reliable and affordable for those who live and work in rural areas.”

In Michigan, Cloverland Electric Cooperative is receiving $42.9 million to improve the generation system and upgrade security measures. The loan will also be used to build and improve 80 miles of line and invest nearly $832,000 in smart grid technologies.

Cloverland serves nearly 43,000 residential and commercial consumers in Chippewa, Delta, Luce, Mackinac and Schoolcraft counties in Michigan.

“Updating and improving our rural electric infrastructure is another way USDA is helping to revitalize rural Michigan,” said USDA Rural Development State Director for Michigan Jason Allen.

 The USDA is investing in 17 projects through the Electric Loan Program in Arkansas, Arizona, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia and West Virginia. This funding will help build and improve 3,741 miles of line to improve electric reliability and resilience in rural areas.  

 In April 2017 the US government established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities.

In January 2018, Secretary Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings to President Trump. These findings included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America. Increasing investments in rural infrastructure is a key recommendation of the task force.