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Published on September 13th, 2012 | by Adam Johnston

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USDA Reaches $250 Million Goal to Support Smart Grid Infrastructure



The USDA recently announced it has obtained its $250 million goal to improve US rural smart grids.

US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on a tour in North Carolina noted that taxpayers will see very little cost for smart grid infrastructure investment for the rural US, thanks to the USDA reaching it’s $250 million investment goal.

“Grid modernization and deployment of ‘smart grid’ technology will increase the reliability and efficiency of electric power generation,” said Vilsack in the statement

“Providing reliable, affordable electrical service contributes to stronger rural economies and is the backbone for a prosperous rural America. These loans will help ensure that rural areas can retain existing businesses, support new ones and have reliable, up-to-date infrastructure.”

The investments are just a part of the US Administration’s attempts to upgrade the electric grid in order to avoid blackouts in the future due to increased demand, along with external factors like extreme weather events, including the derecho storm that hit parts of the USA late June this year.

It’s hoped the new investments by the USDA will push integration of renewable energy into the electrical grid, cut the need for more coal power plants, and spur innovative entrepreneurship, the statement noted.

Well-known examples of smart grid technologies the USDA mentioned include: smart phone apps that allow you to check your thermostat, and websites showing energy savings to household owners.

Here were some of the beneficiaries of the funding:

Brunswick Electric Membership Corporation ($21.5 million) & Edgecombe-Martin County Electric Membership ($6.4 million) in North Carolina. Both companies plan to use the loans to upgrade current grid infrastructure, and support installation of automatic meters.

Agralite Electric Cooperative ($5.19 million loan) in Minnesota. The cooperative aims to improve their distribution lines with the loan as well as smart grid projects.

North East Missouri Electric Power Cooperative ($30 million) in Missouri/Iowa. The company plans with the investment improve 24 miles of transmission line and build three substations. The Missouri–based cooperative also plans to use $500,000 of the loan for various smart grid projects.

For more on the other beneficiaries, you can go to the USDA website.

Source: USDA
Image Credit: Smart Meter via Shutterstock

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About the Author

A University of Winnipeg graduate who received a three year B.A. with a combined major in Economics and Rhetoric, Writing & Communications. Currently attempting to be a freelance social media coordinator. My eventual goal is to be a clean tech policy analyst down the road while I sharpen my skills as a renewable energy writer. Currently working on a book on clean tech and how to relate it to a broader audience. You can follow me on Twitter @adamjohnstonwpg or at www.adammjohnston.wordpress.com



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