Rural Co-ops to Get a Helping Hand
When most people think of power companies, the big names come to mind such as Duke Energy. In reality, a major portion of the rural areas in this country are served by local co-ops doing a wonderful job of keeping the lights on.
Recently a new loan program has been put in place to help finance improvements in the systems of some of these local companies.
Electric cooperatives servicing thirty-one states will distribute nearly $2.3 billion in loans to construct and enhance systems.
“Improving our rural electric utility systems will help us continue to provide reliable and affordable electricity to rural customers,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “By financing these improvements, USDA helps increase efficiencies, reduce carbon emissions and improve the quality of life in rural areas.”.
The financing is provided via the Rural Utilities Service Electric Loan Program.
Financing for the 77 utilities and cooperatives consists of more than $108 million for smart grid technology, $41 million for renewable resource improvements and $9 million for storm damage repairs.
The loans will help build or improve 12,000 miles of transmission and distribution lines, USDA said.
Orcas Power and Light Cooperative will use its $17.1 million loan primarily to replace a submarine cable, as called for under a long-range and construction work plan.
The Eastsound, Wash., co-op serves 20 islands, which rely upon 30 miles of underwater cables. “The replacement cost for the 26 individual cables is between $1 to $5.6 million per mile depending on distance, permitting and other regulatory and environmental factors,” said Foster Hildreth, general manager.
USDA also provided a $59.8 million to Central Iowa Power Corp., to fund more than 126 miles of new or upgraded power lines.
All of this is fantastic news to those in the rural areas working so hard to keep their systems up and running. Many government officials talk about increasing internet speed in rural areas, but keeping the power on should be a prime concern as well.