Government

USDA announces $7.4 million in loans to improve Iowa's rural energy infrastructure

Infrastructure cited as factor in 'a more prosperous future in rural communities'

(File photo) Foreman Gary Thompson grinds down burrs on metal arms before they are mounted at a new substation site in rural Alburnett on Friday, October 30, 2015. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)
(File photo) Foreman Gary Thompson grinds down burrs on metal arms before they are mounted at a new substation site in rural Alburnett on Friday, October 30, 2015. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Two Iowa electric cooperatives have made the list of 16 nationwide to receive millions in federal funds for rural electric infrastructure upgrades.

On Thursday at Bertram’s Central Iowa Power Cooperative (CIPCO) substation, Anne Hazlett, assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development, announced that Farmers Electric Cooperative, in Greenfield, and Harrison County REC, in Woodbine, were granted a collective $7.4 million in U.S. Department of Agriculture loans.

Farmers Electric Cooperative — which is a member of CIPCO — was granted $1.4 million in loan funds for smart grid projects. The utility plans to installs more than 5,800 single-phase meters and additional meter-reading equipment.

Harrison County REC, which received a $6 million loan, plans to build 20 miles of new electric line, improve another 57 miles of existing line and make other system improvements.

“Robust, modern infrastructure is a foundation for quality of life and economic opportunity no matter the Zip code in which you live,” Hazlett said in a Thursday news release. “Under (USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue’s) leadership, USDA is committed to being a strong partner in addressing rural infrastructure needs to support a more prosperous future in rural communities.”

All told, the USDA has announced $309 million — through the department’s Electric Infrastructure Loan and Loan Guarantee program — across 16 projects to improve rural infrastructure in 12 states. Funds are to be used to finance generation, transmission and distribution projects or go toward system imporvements and energy conservation projects in communities with 10,000 or fewer residents.

Funding for the loans was included in the Fiscal Year 2018 Omnibus spending bill, which allocates funds for infrastructure investments, including $6.25 billion to USDA for electric loans, the news release states.

l Comments: (319) 398-8309; mitchell.schmidt@thegazette.com

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.

CONTINUE READING

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.