Secretary Vilsack Announces Funding to Improve Electric Service in Rural Communities
TEMPLE, October 12, 2012 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced funding to modernize and improve the efficiency of rural electric generation and transmission systems. The announcement was made on the Secretary’s behalf by Under Secretary Dallas Tonsager.
"USDA and the Obama administration continue to make key investments in rural electric cooperatives that will modernize service and improve reliability for rural businesses and residential customers," Tonsager said. "Today’s announcement also includes funding that will enable rural electric cooperatives and utilities to adopt smart grid technologies in their operation as part of the ongoing efforts to modernize rural America's electric grid."
Secretary Vilsack announced in August that USDA had met its goal to finance $250 million in smart grid technologies in fiscal year 2012. Today's announcement includes additional support of $134 million in smart grid technologies.
Two cooperatives in Texas will benefit from funding through this announcement. San Patrico Electric Cooperative, Inc. was awarded $16,853,000 to build and improve 202 miles of distribution line, and make other system improvements. The loan amount includes $2,157,754 in smart grid projects. East Texas Electric Cooperative, Inc. of Texas and Louisiana, will benefit from $151,000,000 announced today, to finance a 50 MW renewable generating plant. The plant will use wood biomass for fuel.
“Electric cooperatives provide a vital service to rural Texas communities,” said Paco Valentin, USDA Rural Development Texas State Director. “San Patrico Electric Cooperative, Inc. and East Texas Electric Cooperative, Inc. provide valuable and reliable services to homeowners, farms and businesses.”
The $1.95 billion in loan guarantees announced today are provided by USDA Rural Development's Rural Utilities Service. The funding helps electric utilities upgrade, expand, maintain and replace rural America's electric infrastructure. The agency also funds energy conservation and renewable energy projects.
For information on other Rural Development's projects, please visit the agency’s new interactive web map at: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/RDSuccessStories.html. The map features program funding and success stories for fiscal years 2009-2011.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an active portfolio of more than $172 billion in loans and loan guarantees. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America.