|The National Grange applauds the Thursday, Aug. 9, announcement by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, that electric utilities in rural areas of 18 states will receive loan guarantees to improve their local electric lines, transmission facilities and to implement smart grid technologies.
"The National Grange is pleased with the USDA’s continued investment in rural America that reaches far beyond some of its staple programs supporting farming, food subsidies and research," National Grange President Ed Luttrell said. "The success and sustainability of American agriculture and rural America cannot come without dramatic improvements to the electric infrastructure of our small towns. It is our hope that these funds will help to support the expansion of other technologies, such as rural broadband, that level the accessibility playing field for all Americans."
The funding will come from the USDA Rural Development’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS). Along with helping to improve rural America’s electric infrastructure, the RUS is also meant to support energy conservation and renewable energy projects.
Vilsack has set a goal of funding over $250 million for smart grid technologies. In total, the USDA has announced investments of more than $420 million of pre-allocated USDA funds for electric infrastructure in rural areas.