USDA Announces $6 Million for Rural Smart Grid

April 17, 2013

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on April 10 announced funding for projects to improve electric service in rural areas across 13 states, including more than $6 million in smart grid funding, which increases access to information to better manage electricity use. Overall, $280 million will be available through loans for rural electric infrastructure in Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Texas.

For example, the Georgia Transmission Corporation, which serves customers in Alabama and Florida in addition to Georgia, will receive a USDA loan that includes more than $3 million for smart grid projects. The Heartland Rural Electric Cooperative in Kansas will receive a USDA loan that includes more than $192,000 for smart grid projects. Smart grid technologies involve adding communication capabilities and control systems to the electrical grid that are intended to improve home energy management for the homeowner, provide greater demand control for the utility, and create a more reliable power grid overall. Smart grid technologies are also expected to better accommodate the use of renewable energy, all forms of on-site power production, and electric vehicles. See the USDA press release.

And on March 29, USDA announced that it is seeking applications to provide assistance to agricultural producers and rural small businesses for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Funding is available from USDA's Rural Energy for America Program. See the USDA press release.