Rural Utilities Service, under the US Department of Agriculture is lighting up rural areas as it provides rural electric infrastructure improvements under the Electric Program banner. With a recent rollout of a quarter of a billion dollars in budget, the project helps “improve the delivery of reliable electricity, and will help ensure that rural areas nationwide can prosper economically and benefit from today’s technologies to meet tomorrow’s needs,” says USDA Acting Deputy Undersecretary for Rural Development Roger Glendenning in a recent release.
Lighting up for progress
The program will fund the building or improvement of 2203 km of transmission and distribution lines, including $22.4 worth of Smart Grid technologies that will augment the efficiency and reliability of the system. Smart Grid does this by improving power needs and supply management and enhancing efficiency in operations. The coverage of this technology spans metering, automating substations, communications, computer systems and applications, as well as geospatial information dynamics, among others.
What is the Electric Program?
This program is the project successor of the Rural Electrification Administration. Its primary function is to provide financing and loan guarantees to nonprofit institutions, cooperative bodies, public entities, etc. with the aim of bolstering electric distribution in the country, specifically in areas designated as rural.
Examples of how this project is being put to use include:
- The Great Lakes Energy Cooperative in Michigan receiving $47.7 million for the construction and improvement of 1141 km of line for 3000 new consumers.
- The $14.7 million budget given to Wild Rice Electric Cooperative Inc. in Minnesota for the building and improvement of 194 km of line, as well as financing $3.3 million for Smart Grid tech.
- Upgrading Greystone Power Corp. in Georgia, utilizing $90.3 million for building the necessary electric infrastructure to connect over 8000 new consumers.
This is under the umbrella of USDA’s Rural Development plans which dispenses funds in the form of loans and grants for projects that facilitate the expansion of economic opportunities and job creation into the great rurals.