The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced it will provide $3.6 billion in loans to fund 82 projects in 31 states to finance new transmission and distribution lines, smart grid technologies, renewable projects, environmental improvements, and energy efficiency.

The agency said on October 26 that the loans will be provided through the Electric Program of the Rural Utilities Service, an entity formerly known as the Rural Electrification Administration, that makes loans and loan guarantees to nonprofit and cooperative associations, public bodies, and other utilities.

The $3.6 billion will build or improve 12,500 miles of transmission and distribution line. It includes $216 million for smart grid technologies, $35 million for renewable energy, $26 million for environmental improvements, and nearly $1.8 million for energy efficiency, the USDA said.

Loans include:

  • $28 million for Missouri-based United Electric Cooperative to build or improve 164 miles of line, and make other system improvements. The loan amount includes $3.5 million for smart grid projects. Missouri will receive a total of $108 million for three projects that will build or improve over 300 miles of line and invest over $42 million in smart grid technologies to improve system resilience and efficiency. They include $1.25 million loans for a solar photovoltaic project built by South Mississippi Electric Power Association in Missouri.
  • $87 million for Dairyland Power Cooperative, which is located in Wisconsin and serves customers in Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, and Minnesota, to make system improvements, including building and improving 12 miles of line. The cooperative will use nearly $3.8 million for smart grid technology, increasing the efficiency of system operations.
  • $26 million to Edenton Solar to build a 20-MW solar photovoltaic farm in North Carolina.
  • $525,000 for Western Iowa Power Cooperative to build a solar photovoltaic system with 664 solar panels “to supplement power needs and generate additional energy back into the grid.” The loan amount of $525,000 is all for smart grid projects.

 

Sonal Patel, associate editor (@POWERmagazine, @sonalcpatel)