USDA approves £150.3m financing to upgrade rural electric systems in US

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has approved an investment of $181m (£150.3m) to upgrade rural electric systems in 10 states in the country.

Intended to help build and improve 1,354 miles (2,179km) of line to improve electric reliability and resilience in rural areas, the funding will be used by 12 projects.

USDA’s financing will be provided through Electric Loan Program

The states that will receive the financing through the Electric Loan Program include Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas, and Wisconsin.

About $7.7m (£6.3m) of the total funding will be used to finance smart grid technologies to help improve system operations and monitor grid security.

USDA Rural Utilities Service administrator Chad Rupe said: “For more than eight decades, USDA has been a strong partner to rural communities in building and expanding electric infrastructure.

“Under the leadership of President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Perdue, USDA is committed to investing in essential infrastructure upgrades that improve the quality of life in rural communities and help grow the rural economy.”

About $19.7m (£16.2m) will be used by Ohio’s Buckeye Rural Electric to build and improve 154km of line while Licking Valley Rural Electric in West Liberty will receive $19.7m (£16.2m) loan to build and upgrade 119km of line and install nearly $338,000 in smart grid technologies.

In a statement, the USDA said: “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.”

The latest move follows USDA’s £682m funding announcement made earlier this year, to upgrade the rural electric systems in 17 states.

The USDA said that it would invest in 17 projects as part of the Electric Loan Program in states of Arkansas, Arizona, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia.