USDA funding will help boost electric services

Rural residents in 16 states, including Indiana, South Dakota and Iowa, will be receiving funding to boost their rural electric services. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Wednesday that USDA funding for these projects will include over $356 million to improve electric service to rural customers by making the grid more reliable and affordable, and enticing investment and business development opportunities for job creation in rural areas.

New smart grid technology will increase the efficiency of the rural electricity service, and rural electric cooperatives have already used USDA funding to invest almost $560 million in electricity improvements since 2011. The USDA funding will affect more than 8.5 million rural electricity consumers annually with the construction of more than 24-hundred miles of new or improved electric line.

Dubois Rural Electric Cooperative in Indiana is getting $4 million to build 100 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The loan includes $121,800 for smart grid projects.

Butler County Rural Electric Cooperative in Iowa is getting $2.5 million to build 15 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The loan includes $20,000 for smart grid projects.

Butte Electric Cooperative in South Dakota is getting more than $14.7 million to build 82 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The loan includes nearly $880,000 for smart grid projects and $329,000 for service to 118 Native Americans.

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