Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today an $8 million investment in smart grid technology. This came among a broader announcement that rural areas in 12 states will receive loan guarantees to improve the state of their electric service. Electric cooperatives and utilities will receive funds for improving generation and transmission facilities and implementing smart grid technologies.
The announcement was made by the USDA Rural Utilities Acting Administrator John Padalino on Vilsack’s behalf. He made the announcement during the annual meeting of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association in New Orleans.
“In his State of the Union Address last week, President Obama said that in America we have ‘an aging infrastructure badly in need of repair’ and these investments help to address our country’s infrastructure challenges,” Padalino said at the meeting. “Upgrading rural infrastructure sets the stage for economic development, because access to reliable, affordable electricity is essential to rural job creation.”
Smart grid technologies improve the efficiency of electric grids, which can lower electric bills by reducing energy use in homes and businesses. A smart grid is able to gather information about the production and use of electricity and act on it to improve the reliability and sustainability of the distribution of power.
The $8 million for smart grids is but a small portion of the $330 million in loan guarantees announced today. The funding should help electric utilities upgrade, expand, maintain, and replace rural infrastructure.
USDA has an active portfolio of over $176 billion in loans and loan guarantees available to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, farmers, ranchers, and residents.
[Image via ShutterStock]