The Agriculture Department Thursday announced $122 million in funding for seven projects to expand and upgrade rural electric infrastructure systems across five states.
The investment comes through the Electric Loan Program, which finances the construction of electric infrastructure and electrical service improvements in rural areas.
Agriculture officials said the improvements include building or improving 964 miles of electric line and should benefit more than 6,200 business and residential customers in Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Oklahoma and South Dakota. Those states will also benefit from $7 million to finance smart grid technologies. Smart grid tech includes computer applications, geospatial information systems and other tools that “improve system operations and monitor grid security.”
The projects stem in part from decisions made by an Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity, which President Trump launched in April 2017 to promote prosperity in rural communities. The task force presented key findings to President Trump in January 2018, one of which called for increasing investment in rural communities.
“Modern and reliable electric infrastructure is foundational to building prosperity in rural America,” USDA Acting Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Joel Baxley said in a statement. “Under the leadership of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, USDA is committed to being a strong partner in improving this essential infrastructure.”