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USDA Invests $276M for Rural Electronic Infrastructure

The Department of Agriculture has allotted $276 million in investment funds for the construction of a rural electric infrastructure.

The investment will add 1,000 miles of new line and update 733 miles of existing line, in aims to support electricity needs of businesses and residents within rural areas, USDA said Tuesday.

The department seeks to allot $65 million to procure smart grid technologies including metering, substation automation, computer applications, two-way communications and geospatial information systems to lessen outages and install new assets at rural electric utilities.

An amount of $74 million is being loaned to Jackson County Rural Electric Membership for smart grid technologies, as well as the construction of 84 miles of line and upgrade of 32 miles for distributing electricity across 20,000 residencies and businesses.

Kentucky-based Shelby Energy Cooperative has secured a $22.3 million loan award for 60 miles of new line and updating of 52 miles, as well as smart grid efforts, in support of consumers from 10 counties within Louisville and Lexington.

North Dakota-based Slope Electric Cooperative will be awarded a $12.5 million loan for new 84 miles of new line and updating of 32 miles, as well as restoration efforts to address storm-cause damages dealt in July 2017.

Rappahannock Electric Cooperative of Virginia will produce 376 miles of new line under a loan of $52 million.

Bedford Solar last year received $3 million loan for the construction of a three-megawatt solar plant to power a Virginia-based rural town.

Altogether, USDA loans under the investment effort were awarded to electricity firms in the states of Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio and Virginia.

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