Rural electric co-ops to receive $1.8bn in loan guarantees to improve service in 25 states, one territory

Rural electric cooperatives in 25 states and the Virgin Islands will receive more than $1.8bn in federal loan guarantees through a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) program to improve electric service. The program includes adding more than 217 miles of new transmission lines, more than 6,200 miles of distribution lines, improving system reliability and promoting the expansion of the smart grid.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack made the announcement of guaranteed loans to 28 co-ops on Dec. 13.

“Today’s investments will help ensure our electric infrastructure continues to deliver reliable and affordable electricity for years to come,” Vilsack said, noting that the funding includes more than $45m to implement smart grid technologies, $73m for renewable energy projects and over $213m targeted to benefit Native Americans.

One tribal authority and nine cooperatives will use a portion of their USDA funding to develop transmission and generation projects.

Navajo Tribal Authority, which serves customers in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, will receive $167.8m to build 109 miles of transmission line, 1,106 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The loan amount includes $5.7m for smart grid projects.

Dairyland Power Cooperative, which serves customers in Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan and Minnesota, will receive a $121.6m loan guarantee to build and improve 87 miles of transmission, five new substations, and make other system improvements. The loan amount includes $800,000 for smart grid projects.

High West Energy, which serves customers in Wyoming, Colorado and Nebraska, will receive $25.1m to build 17 miles of transmission line, 483 miles of distribution line, and make other system improvements.

Minnkota Power Cooperative, which serves customers in North Dakota and Minnesota, will receive $46.3m to cover additional costs incurred in the construction of the Center to Grand Forks 345-kV transmission project, a 250-mile transmission line and associated facilities extending from the existing Center 345-kV substation at the Milton R. Young Unit 2 generation station in Oliver County, N.D., to the existing Prairie 345-kV substation in Grand Forks County, N.D.

EnergyUnited Electric Membership Cooperative, which serves members in North Carolina, will receive $34m to build four miles of transmission line, 309 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The loan includes $561,000 for smart grid projects.

Oglethorpe Power Corporation, which serves customers in Georgia, will receive $230m to finance transmission and generation improvement projects, including $30.5m for environmental improvements.

Golden Valley Electrical Association, which serves customers in Alaska, will receive three separate guarantees totaling $203.5m. A guarantee for $147.8m will be used for the purchase and improvement of an existing coal-fired generating plant, and includes $110m for environmental improvement projects and $32m for service to Native Alaskans. Two other guarantees totaling $55.7m include $12m for the purchase and installation of a new regenerator in the North Pole Power Plant Gas Turbine #2 and $43.7m to build 126 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The loans include $3.5m for smart grid projects and $12m for service to Native Americans.

Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, which serves customers in Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico and Wyoming, will receive three separate guarantees totaling $406.3m. A guarantee of $75.4m will be used to finance the acquisition of the JM Shafter generation facility, while the balance of the funds will be used to finance upgrades and modification to existing generation facilities.

South Mississippi Electric Power Association will receive $181.8m to be used to purchase two natural gas-fired combined cycle units at the Batesville Generating Station.

East Texas Electric Cooperative, which serves customers in Texas and Louisiana, will receive $73m to finance the construction of the 24-MW Livingston Hydroelectric Station and associated transmission facilities.

A total of 18 other rural electric cooperatives will also receive USDA loan guarantees. All loan guarantees are contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the loan agreement.

Indiana

  • Marshall County Rural Electric Membership Cooperative will receive $6m to build 105 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The loan includes $347,155 for smart grid projects.

Iowa

  • Maquoketa Valley Rural Electric Cooperative will receive $5m to build 198 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The loan includes $54,553 for smart grid projects.

Kentucky

  • Kenergy Corporation will receive $28m to build 223 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements.

Michigan

  • Great Lakes Energy Cooperative will receive $60m to build 363 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The loan includes $1.5m for smart grid projects.

Minnesota

  • Minnesota Valley Cooperative Light and Power Association will receive $10.9m to build 80 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The loan includes $660,000 for smart grid projects and $88,760 for service to Native Americans.
  • Traverse Electric Cooperative, which serves customers in North Dakota and South Dakota as well as Minnesota, will receive $4.7m to build 63 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The loan includes $1.5m for smart grid projects and $1m for service to Native Americans

New Mexico

  • Kit Carson Electric Cooperative will receive $33.1m to build 284 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The loan includes $2.2m for smart grid projects and $1.1m for service to Native Americans.

North Dakota

  • Capital Electric Cooperative will receive $31m to build 265 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The loan includes $2.1m for smart grid projects and $248,000 to for service to Native Americans.
  • Verendrye Electric Cooperative will receive $63m to build 741 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The loan includes $1.2m for smart grid projects and $315,000 for service to Native Americans.
  • Nodak Electric Cooperative will receive $31.2m to build 450 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The loan includes $2.4m for smart grid projects and $540,000 for service to Native Americans.

Pennsylvania

  • Bedford Rural Electric Cooperative will receive $4m to build 109 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The loan includes $153,600 for smart grid projects.

South Carolina

  • Fairfield Electric Cooperative will receive $16m to build 322 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The loan includes $406,665 for smart grid projects.

South Dakota

  • Lake Region Electric Association will receive $9.7m to build 159 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The loan includes $2m for smart grid projects and $194,000 for service to Native Americans.

Tennessee, Kentucky

  • Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation will receive $20m to build 607 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The loan includes $826,500 for smart grid projects.

Texas

  • Rusk County Electric Cooperative will receive $22m to build 112 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The loan includes $4.2m for smart grid projects.

Virgin Islands

  • Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority will receive $13m for smart grid projects.

Virginia

  • BARC Electric Cooperative will receive $6m to build 82 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The loan includes $169,500 for smart grid projects

Wisconsin

  • Chippewa Valley Electric Cooperative will receive $3m to build 40 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The loan includes $147,188 for smart grid projects

Through its rural development mission area, USDA has a portfolio of programs designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America, the agency said.