Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Tuesday announced that USDA is investing more than $518 million in rural electric cooperatives to improve the delivery of electric power to communities in 15 states.
The loan guarantees for electric systems will build or improve more than 5,600 miles of line in rural areas. The funding is part of nearly $50 billion that USDA has invested in infrastructure improvements since 2009.
More than $23 million of the funding is targeted for smart grid improvements, like automated meter reading and load management automation. These improvements allow for more efficient control over the use of power to better meet customers' needs, USDA says.
"We must invest in America's infrastructure to promote sustainable economic development in our rural and urban communities," Vilsack said during a White House summit on infrastructure financing. "Enhancements to the nation's electric grid make a huge difference for communities across the country and support President Obama's efforts to build a stronger rural economy."
The investments are provided through USDA's Rural Utilities Service, which also administers infrastructure programs that bring broadband, drinking water and wastewater treatment facility improvements to rural communities.
Through the years, these USDA infrastructure investments have brought new economic and social opportunities and have enhanced the quality of life in the nation's rural communities, the agency says.
View the full state-by-state rural electric investment announcement on the USDA website.