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USDA Provides $900 Million in Funding to Electric Cooperatives for Generation and Transmission Facilities and Smart Grid Improvements

The USDA announced on August 29, 2011, that sixteen electric cooperatives throughout the United States would receive a total of $900 million in loans for smart grid projects and improvements to generation and transmission facilities.  The loans are being provided through the USDA Rural Utilities Service, and loan proceeds will help build approximately 1,500 miles of new distribution lines.  Among the loan recipients are Ocmulgee Electric Membership Corporation in Georgia, Rolling Hills Electric Cooperative in Kansas, and Western Farmers Electric Cooperative.  The largest loan, in the amount of $462 million, goes to Hoosier Energy Rural Electric Cooperative for additions and upgrades to generation and transmission facilities.  Smart grid technologies received a total of $19 million.

An increasing amount of funding will likely go toward smart grid technologies.  Of course it is difficult to judge how much funding is actually used for “smart grid” efforts, as money shown as going toward system improvements may in fact assist with infrastructure needed to make smart grid efforts possible.  The smart grid components focused on by the press, such as smart appliances and consumer devices, require infrastructure improvements such as improved communications networks and advanced metering infrastructure systems.

For more information about these RUS loans, please see
http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?contentidonly=true&contentid=2011/08/0384.xml.

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