USDA Providing $269M in Loans for Smart Grid Projects; Tom Vilsack Comments

Tom Vilsack

The Agriculture Department will fund up to $269 million in loans for smart grid projects in 10 states, the department announced Friday.

USDA’s goal for the initiative was $250 million, Secretary Tom Vilsack said in the release.

Vilsack added USDA intends for the loans to help rural areas retain existing businesses, support new ones and have reliable and updated infrastructure.

Nine rural electric cooperatives and utilities will use the funds to update their generation and transmission facilities and implement smart grid technologies.

The White House’s framework for a modernized electric system, announced in June 2011, includes several public and private initiatives for deploying smart grid technology in rural areas.

USDA wants the new technology to help manage blackouts, restore power and help entrepreneurs develop and innovate new consumer products including smartphone-controlled thermostats.

Projects under this funding initiative will occur in Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Last summer, the department announced a $103 million funding initiative to connect rural communities to broadband Internet.

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