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USDA Partners to Improve Electric Infrastructure Across 13 States
Iowa Ag Connection - 09/20/2018

Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett Wednesday announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $398.5 million to improve rural electric service in 13 states.

"Reliable and affordable electricity is undeniably a necessity in today's world," Hazlett said while in Indianapolis. "Under the leadership of Secretary Sonny Perdue, USDA is committed to being a strong partner in keeping our rural communities connected to this essential infrastructure."

USDA is making the investments through the Electric Infrastructure Loan Program. Below is an Indiana project USDA is funding:

- Marshall County REMC is receiving a $9.5 million loan to build 11 miles of line, improve 59 miles and make other system improvements. The loan amount includes $5,130,130 for smart grid projects. Marshall County provides electric service to 7,200 customers over 1,070 miles of line in Elkhart, Fulton, Kosciusko, Marshall, St. Joseph and Starke counties in northern Indiana. The economy of the service territory has historically relied on agriculture and agriculture-related industries.

These projects will help improve the quality of life in rural communities in Arkansas, Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia.

The investments USDA is making today include nearly $43.7 million for smart grid technology to increase system efficiencies. Smart grid includes computer applications, two-way machine-to-machine communications, geospatial information systems and other tools to increase the reliability and efficiency of electric power systems.

The Department's support for rural cooperatives and utilities underscores Secretary Perdue's priority to promote rural economic development by centering around three principles: infrastructure, partnerships and innovation. Investing in electric infrastructure has increased productivity and improved the quality of life in rural areas for nearly 80 years.

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