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USDA to help electric co-ops improve service.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in October announced funding for rural electric cooperative utilities to improve distribution systems and build "smart-grid" technologies in 27 states, all as part of the Obama Administration s continued focus on investments in infrastructure that creates rural jobs.

"This investment in the electric grid will help address the growing need for electric service nationwide and spur job creation by building out rural infrastructure," Vilsack said during an address at a National Rural Electric Cooperative Association regional meeting in Denver, Colo. "Smart-grid technology can help better manage power use, provide rate stability for businesses and create the climate for job growth in rural America."

The funds are provided through the Rural Utilities Program of USDA Rural Development. More than $40 million is being provided for smart-grid technologies and to build or improve nearly 6,000 miles of electric lines. Funding for distribution cooperatives, which provide power to consumers, will benefit more than 38,000 rural businesses and residents.

Included in the funding are three loans for Colorado projects that will help keep electricity reliable and affordable for rural communities. In Virginia, a loan of $90 million to the Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative will be used to build a 49.9 megawatt woody biomass generation facility. The project is projected to generate about 6 percent of the cooperative's future power needs for the years 2014 through 2030.
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Title Annotation:Newsline: Co-op developments, coast to coast
Publication:Rural Cooperatives
Geographic Code:1U8CO
Date:Nov 1, 2011
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