USDA to offer $3.6bn as loans to fund electric projects

27 October 2016 (Last Updated October 27th, 2016 18:30)

US Department of Agriculture (USDA) will provide $3.6bn as loans to fund 82 electric projects in 31 states.

US Department of Agriculture (USDA) will provide $3.6bn in loans to fund 82 electric projects across 31 states.

The loan will be used for infrastructure upgrades to create jobs and improve system operations for rural electric customers nationwide.

US Agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack said: "For 80 years, rural electric utilities have provided reliable and affordable electricity to help rural communities increase productivity and build stronger economies.

"These loans will help them continue to do that. The utilities and cooperatives will use some of the money to finance energy efficiency projects, renewable fuel systems, and smart grid technologies to increase our energy independence and improve rural electric infrastructure."

"For 80 years, rural electric utilities have provided reliable and affordable electricity to help rural communities increase productivity and build stronger economies."

The $3.6bn will allow construction or improvement to 12,500mi of transmission and distribution lines. It also includes $216m for smart grid technologies, $35m for renewable energy, and $26m for environmental improvements, as well as approximately $1.8m for energy efficiency.

The loans are being provided through the Electric Programme of the Rural Utilities Service, the successor to the Rural Electrification Administration.

The programme makes loans and loan guarantees to various organisations and associations, which include non-profit and cooperative associations, public bodies, and other utilities.

Since 2009, USDA has invested nearly $38bn in electric loans and more than $1bn for smart grid technologies. This enhances the consistency of electric power and also helps utilities better manage electric grid to improve operational efficiencies.