(NAFB)--Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has announced funding for rural electric projects in 16 states to provide reliable, affordable electricity for rural residents. Vilsack says USDA funding for rural electric utilities improves service to customers, makes the grid more efficient and reliable and encourages investment, business development and job creation in rural communities. Wednesday’s announcement includes more than 356-million dollars in loans to upgrade rural electric services - including more than 15-million dollars in smart grid funding. This funding will help finance the construction of more than 24-hundred miles of new or improved electric line.
According to USDA - the department’s support for rural electric utilities benefits more than 8.5-million rural electric consumers annually. Smart grid technology further increases the efficiency and reliability of the rural electric system. Rural electric cooperatives have used USDA funding to invest nearly 560-million dollars in smart grid improvements since 2011.