USDA Helps Rural Electricity Get Smart

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently announced $287 Million in loans to improve rural electricity infrastructure and make the electric grid more reliable and efficient. Rural electric cooperatives in fifteen states - Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Texas - will receive money to install smart grid technologies and improve transmission and generation facilities.
According to Secretary Vilsack, investments in smart grid technologies give rural electric utilities and consumers one more tool to better manage electricity usage, improve efficiency, increase reliability of the electric grid and lower overall costs.

In recent years, communities from the Dakotas to Florida and from New Mexico to New England have experienced storms and weather events which left thousands without power. Utilities cannot currently pinpoint the precise cause or location of a power outage, and rely on customer reporting and persistent repair crews to fix the problem.

The nature of smart meters is two-way communication with the power supplier. Which means when the lights go out, the utility knows before customers have to report it - timely and much welcome news for consumers.

Smart grid technology will help utilities manage their network and address inefficiencies. This means that persistent problems, like trees too close to overhead power lines, can be mapped and targeted prior to outages.

This announcement of U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development’s investment in our nation’s electric grid is another win for rural America.

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