Co-ops Get $420 Million for Upgrades
Electric cooperatives in 18 states are in line for more than $420 million in loan guarantees from the Rural Utilities Service to upgrade their systems and add smart grid technologies.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the money also will enhance electric service by supporting construction or improvements to nearly 3,400 miles of lines.
“With these loans, we are continuing to help cooperatives provide reliable service to rural residents. A significant portion of this funding will go to smart grid technologies, helping consumers lower their electric bills and reducing peak demand for producers,” he said.
The latest round of RUS announcements came Aug. 9, as RUS Administrator Jonathan Adelstein toured one of the recipients, Southside Electric Cooperative, Crewe, Va.
The co-op will use the funding to build 7 miles of new transmission lines, construct new substations and switching stations, improve 736 miles of distribution lines and prepare line extensions for anticipated growth. More than $10 million will go to smart grid projects, including advanced metering.
Converting the distribution lines at three SEC substations from 12.47 kilovolts to 24.94 kv will reduce line loss and purchased-power expenses, and improve service reliability, officials said.
“For 75 years, Southside has received and paid back low-interest government loans so that we can better serve our membership,” said Jeff Edwards, SEC president and CEO, who was joined by Adelstein, Frank Bacon, chairman of the SEC board and Ellen Matthews Davis of the Virginia USDA office.
“This newest RUS loan, the largest in our co-op’s history, will help us complete key projects to improve reliability and customer service, as well as give us the additional capacity to meet future load requirements that will benefit our communities through economic development.”
East River Electric Power Cooperative, Madison, S.D., will receive $62.2 million to construct 44 miles of transmission line and three new substations. About $4 million of the loan guarantee is targeted toward smart grid efforts.
In Mississippi, Coast Electric Power Association, Kiln, will use $51.8 million to serve 9,240 members and work on 246 miles of distribution lines. Also, $128,000 is set aside for smart grid projects.
About $29 million of the overall $420 million in loan guarantees will go to smart grid projects, the department added.
For a complete list of recipients, click here.
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