More than $430 million in rural infrastructure awards recently announced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will help electric cooperatives strengthen their systems and increase grid reliability and security.
The latest round of funding from USDA’s Electric Loan Program, announced Aug. 28, will go to 19 co-ops in 10 states and will also help fund smart-grid technologies.
The largest single loan will go to Lake Country Power (LCP), one of Great River Energy’s member-owner cooperatives, which is headquartered in Cohasset, Minnesota. The co-op will use the $82 million loan to build and improve more than 400 miles of line in eight counties and improve four substations and support all distribution-related construction for the next four years across the co-op’s entire service territory — the largest in the state.
“We rely on the financing and support of the USDA to meet our goals and objectives as the largest geographical electric cooperative in the state of Minnesota,” said Greg Schulzetenberg, manager of community relations and marketing at LCP. “We cover many miles of rugged ground in the state and our costs are substantial.”
Other member-owners to receive funding that will be used to connect consumers as well as build and improve miles of line include:
- Agralite Electric Cooperative — $14,163,000
- Federated Rural Electric Association — $16,450,000
- Goodhue County Cooperative Electric Association — $10,500,000
- Mille Lacs Energy Cooperative — $11,630,000
The co-op awards were part of a larger package of USDA investments targeting several areas, including lead pipe remediation, clean drinking water and sanitary wastewater systems. The funding will benefit nearly 480,000 people in 36 states and two U.S. territories.
“USDA invests in rural America because we know strong communities are rooted in their people,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement. “Powering people with modern infrastructure creates good-paying jobs and supports opportunities for people to build brighter futures.”