USDA to make power grid improvements in 23 states

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack revealed funding for rural electric utility system improvements that will benefit residential and business customers in 23 states.

The $960 million in USDA loan guarantees will help build 3,587 miles of line, benefit about 17,000 rural residential and business customers, and make other system improvements.

The projects include more than $14.3 million to implement smart grid technology and nearly $11 million to improve electric service for Native Americans.

In Alabama, Covington Electric Cooperative will receive a $42.5 million loan guarantee to construct 539 miles of line and make other system improvements, including $8,000 for smart grid applications. These funds will increase electric system reliability for about 5,400 rural Alabama customers.

Including this announcement, the Obama administration has invested $152 million in smart grid technologies nationwide during 2013.

USDA funding is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the loan agreement.

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