The Red River Valley Electric Association in Marietta is among 20 rural electric cooperatives nationally receiving more than $345 million in U.S. Department of Agriculture loans to improve rural electric service in 14 states.
Red River is getting an investment of $16,326,000 according to the announcement made this week by Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue.
The $16 million will be used to build 30 miles of new line and make improvements to 57 other miles. The Cooperative will also use $680,758 for smart grid projects. Red River provides electricity to 15,888 customers over 2,732 total energized miles on all or parts of Carter, Jefferson, Johnston, Love and Marshall counties in south central Oklahoma.
The FreeState Electric Cooperative in Topeka, Kansas received loan in the amount of $14,956,000 and will be used to build 82 miles of new loan and make improvements to another 119 miles of existing lines. At least $130,000 will be used for smart grid projects. FreeState is the largest rural electric cooperative in eastern Kansas.
“Delivering reliable and affordable electricity to power rural America will help lay the groundwork for increased rural prosperity and economic opportunity,” Secretary Perdue said. “USDA is partnering with rural electric utilities and cooperatives so they can continue to invest in infrastructure improvements to provide electric power to those who live and work in rural areas.”
USDA is making the investments through the Electric Infrastructure Loan Program. This program helps finance generation, transmission and distribution projects; system improvements; and energy conservation projects in communities with 10,000 or fewer residents.
The loans include $7.9 million for smart grid technology. This includes computer applications, two-way communications, geospatial information systems and other tools to increase the reliability and efficiency of electric power systems. Below are a few examples of the projects USDA is funding:
In Colorado, the San Isabel Electric Association is receiving a $15.8 million loan to build 63 miles of line and improve 143 miles to serve consumers in Huerfano, Las Animas, Pueblo, Custer, Otero and Costilla counties. The loan includes $752,021 for smart grid projects.
USDA is announcing investments today in rural communities in California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
In April 2017, President Donald J. Trump 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.