U.S. government will pour $1.8 billion into rural smart grids
Quick Take: We tend to think that the glory days of the stimulus are behind us, that we'll never again see huge amounts of federal money for smart grid projects. Yet electric coops got $280 million in USDA loan guarantees back in April, and another $188 million in July.
And now the Department of Agriculture is poised to pump out another $1.8 billion. It's true that rural cooperatives saw little of the original stimulus money. But they are certainly raking it in now. - By Jesse Berst
WASHINGTON, Dec. 13, 2013 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced more than $1.8 billion in funding for electric utility infrastructure projects in 25 states and one territory to improve service for more than 37,000 rural customers. The projects include more than $45 million for smart grid technology, $73 million for renewable energy projects and over $213 million targeted to benefit Native Americans. This funding will build or improve more than 6,500 miles of line to deliver electricity to rural America.
"Rural electric cooperatives have provided reliable, affordable power to rural communities for more than 75 years. Today’s investments will help ensure our electric infrastructure continues to deliver reliable and affordable electricity for years to come,” Vilsack said. "This funding is part of the Obama Administration’s vision for a new rural energy economy and USDA’s commitment to creating economic opportunity in rural America. Investments in smart grid technologies will continue to modernize our nation’s electric system and improve operational efficiencies.”
Today’s funding announcement is provided through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Utilities Service Program.