Trump Administration Invests $4.5 Million in Rural Electric Infrastructure; Highlights Record Investments in FY 2020
Investments to Benefit 23,000 Rural Residents and Businesses in Rural Pennsylvania
WASHINGTON, Oct. 22, 2020 – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing an additional $3.1 billion to build or improve rural electric infrastructure in 25 states, and he highlighted a record level of funding for fiscal year (FY) 2020 to upgrade infrastructure.
“Working and accessible rural electric infrastructure is a cornerstone to prosperity in America’s heartland,” Secretary Perdue said. “This critical funding reflects President Trump’s commitment to increasing prosperity across all of rural America and ensures this major infrastructure network remains reliable for the millions of Americans who depend on it every day.”
“Under the leadership of President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Perdue, I am honored to announce this electric infrastructure enhancement, upgrade and new construction buildout to ensure Pennsylvania has the power it needs, when it’s needed the most! These funds will help secure our rural electric grid for many years to come. As a Trump Administration official and State Director at USDA RD, I am delighted to bring the necessary infrastructure to the places that need it the most. USDA has been working tirelessly to be a strong partner to rural Pennsylvania in building stronger and healthier communities, because we know when rural America thrives, all of America thrives,” said Curt Coccodrilli, PA State Director.
USDA is investing in 53 projects through the Electric Loan Program. This funding will benefit 1.4 million rural residents and businesses in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.
- REA Energy Cooperative, Inc. located in Indiana, Pennsylvania was awarded $4,5000,000 in the Electric Infrastructure program. This Rural Development investment will be used to finance the reimbursement of general funds for electric distribution facilities that were approved in the Construction Work Plan. REA Energy, headquartered in Indiana, Pa., serves approximately 23,000 members over 2,696 miles in Armstrong, Blair, Cambria, Clearfield, Indiana, Jefferson and Westmoreland counties.
Today’s announcement is part of a record level of USDA electric infrastructure investments in one fiscal year. The department invested $6.3 billion in the Electric Loan Program in FY 2020, up from $5.8 billion in 2019 – also a record. USDA made loans to 119 utilities in 34 states across the country during FY 2020, which ended on September 30. Those figures build upon the $3.7 billion invested in 2018.
Helping improve rural electric infrastructure is a significant part of the Trump administration’s “all-of-the-above” energy strategy. USDA’s Electric Program helps finance wind, solar and natural gas plants, as well as improvements to produce clean energy from coal-fired plants. Local utilities also use the loans to invest in infrastructure to deliver affordable power to thousands of residential, commercial and agricultural consumers.
Twenty-one of the loans that USDA awarded in FY 2020, representing almost 10 percent of total loan volume by dollar, will help expand smart grid technologies. Smart grid can be a catalyst for broadband and other telecommunications services in unserved and underserved rural areas. These loans will finance nearly 23,000 new line-miles of smart grid fiber when buildout is complete.
Rural electric cooperatives and utilities are increasing their internal communications capabilities to improve the reliability and efficiency of the electric grid. This added communications capacity helps cooperatives and their partners expand broadband coverage as they leverage these USDA smart grid investments.
In addition, this year, USDA has made it easier for rural electric utilities and cooperatives to use Electric Program loans for vegetation management programs to prevent and control wildfires.
During FY 2020, USDA also approved nearly $104 million in loans for 11 energy efficiency programs under the Rural Energy Savings Program and $11.7 million in High Energy Cost Grants to rural communities and villages in Alaska to lower the cost of energy consumption and upgrade aging generation systems.
Some Electric Program loans are specifically targeted to support the administration’s actions to spur economic development in areas where poverty rates have been stubbornly high for decades.
To learn more about electric infrastructure and other investment resources for rural areas, interested parties should contact their USDA Rural Development state office.
USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.
If you’d like to subscribe to USDA Rural Development updates, visit our GovDelivery subscriber page.
To schedule an interview with State Director Curt Coccodrilli, please contact Amber Albright at 717-237-2295 or Amber.Albright@usda.gov.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.