On Monday, Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a $2.7 billion investment to help 64 electric cooperatives and utilities.  The funding from the Department of Agriculture will help the cooperatives expand and modernize the nation’s rural electric grid and increase grid security.


"This funding will help rural cooperatives and utilities invest in changes that make our energy more efficient, more reliable, and more affordable," noted Vlisack.


The loans include $613 million to help rural utilities and cooperatives install and upgrade smart grid technologies.  Smart grid can be a catalyst for broadband and other telecommunications services in unserved and underserved rural areas, in addition to improving grid security and reliability.  Nearly half of the awards will help finance infrastructure improvements in underserved communities.  


Northwest projects receiving funding include Oregon’s Umatilla Electric Cooperative Inc. And Washington’s Jefferson County Public Utility District.


Click Here for a run down of the funded projects nationwide.


USDA's Electric Loan Program can help finance wind, solar and natural gas plants, as well as improvements to produce cleaner energy from coal-fired plants. In the coming months, USDA will announce additional energy infrastructure financing.


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