USDA announces $309 million in rural electric loans

Assistant to the Secretary of Agriculture for Rural Development Anne Hazlett has announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture is investing $309 million in 16 projects to improve rural electric infrastructure in 12 states.

“Robust, modern infrastructure is a foundation for quality of life and economic opportunity no matter the zip code in which you live,” Hazlett said. “Under Secretary (Sonny) Perdue’s leadership, USDA is committed to being a strong partner in addressing rural infrastructure needs to support a more prosperous future in rural communities.”

Hazlett made the announcement in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, June 7, during a visit to the Central Iowa Power Cooperative. One of its members, Farmers Electric Cooperative in Greenfield, Iowa, is receiving a $1.4 million USDA loan to invest in smart grid projects. FEC plans to install more than 5,800 single-phase meters and additional meter reading equipment in its west-central Iowa service area.

Hazlett also announced that Harrison County REC, in Woodbine, Iowa, is receiving a $6 million loan to build 20 miles of electric line, improve 57 miles and make other system improvements. Its loan includes $578,000 for smart grid projects.

The loans announced were being made through USDA’s Electric Infrastructure Loan and Loan Guarantee Program. It helps finance generation, transmission and distribution projects; system improvements; and energy conservation projects in communities with 10,000 or fewer residents.

Farmers Electric Cooperative and Harrison County REC join many other rural electric cooperatives and utilities that partner with USDA to use smart grid for computer applications, two-way communications, geospatial information systems and other tools to increase the reliability and efficiency of electric power systems.

Other loans to area cooperatives include:


Mountain View Electric Association, $82.152 million, to build 197 miles of line, improve 197 miles and make other system improvements. The loan amount includes $2,668,290 for smart grid projects. Mountain View is headquartered in Limon. It serves nearly 50,000 consumers over 6,055 miles. Mountain View serves Arapahoe, Crowley, Douglas, Elbert, El Paso, Lincoln and Pueblo counties.


Bluestem Electric Cooperative Inc., $9.755 million, to build 30 miles of line, improve 44 miles and make other system improvements. The loan amount includes $144,000 for smart grid projects. Bluestem Electric is headquartered in Wamego. It serves 5,542 residential consumers, 1,364 commercial consumers and 201 irrigation systems. Bluestem provides service across nine counties, five of which are listed as out-migration counties, including Pottawatomie, Jackson, Wabaunsee, Riley, Marshall, Clay, Washington, Cloud and Ottawa.


Webster Electric Cooperative, $21.35 million to build 98 miles of line, improve 67 miles and make other system improvements. The loan amount includes $280,000 for smart grid projects. Webster serves 17,291 residential and 879 commercial consumers over 1,946 miles in southwest Missouri. Its service territory includes Webster County, and parts of Greene, Christian, Dallas, Wright, Douglas, and Laclede counties. The economy of the service area is based primarily on agriculture, light industry, and moderate residential growth.

South Dakota

FEM Electric Association, $6.032 million, to build 58 miles of line, improve 77 miles and make other system improvements. The loan amount includes $352,600 for smart grid projects. FEM serves 1,865 residential, 19 seasonal, 23 irrigation and 230 commercial consumers across seven counties in north central South Dakota over 2,060 miles. All of the counties served are classified as outmigration counties. The economy is almost exclusively agricultural. Livestock production of hogs and cattle and production of wheat, corn, soybeans and sunflowers are present in the area.

In total, these investments will build or improve 1,660 miles of electric line serving rural homes, farms and businesses. USDA is funding infrastructure improvements for utilities in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, North Carolina, New Mexico, Ohio, South Dakota and Washington.

Larry Dreiling can be reached at 785-628-1117 or [email protected].

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