USDA awards $188 million to upgrade rural electric infrastructure, smart grid tech

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced $188 million in loan guarantees to upgrade rural electric infrastructure, including more than $18 million in smart grid technology funding. The funding will be used to finance the construction of over 1,000 miles of new or improved electric transmission line.

Rural utilities which received loans under the USDA funding round include Seminole Electric Cooperative, Rayle Electric Membership, Goodhue County Cooperative Electric Association, Central Electric Power Cooperative, Central Rural Electric Cooperative, Black Hills Electric Cooperative and Lacreek Electric Association.

The projects, Black Hills Electric Cooperative in South Dakota, Central Rural Electric Cooperative in Oklahoma and Lacreek Electric Association serving South Dakota and Nebraska, include $9.8 million for service improvements in Native American communities.

USDA said since 2011, rural utilities service borrowers have used its funding to invest about $464 million in smart grid improvements.

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