Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett announced that USDA is investing $1.6 billion in 46 rural electric utility infrastructure projects to improve electric reliability and resilience in 24 states, including two projects in Indiana.
“Reliable and affordable power is an underpinning for economic development and quality of life,” Hazlett said. “Under the leadership of Secretary Sonny Perdue, USDA is committed to being a strong partner in building prosperity in rural communities through the sustainment and modernization of rural electric infrastructure.”
The 46 projects announced are being funded through USDA’s Electric Program. These investments will help contribute to a stronger rural electric system by improving operations and reliability. USDA’s funding will help build or improve 5,833 miles of line. It includes $307 million in smart grid technologies, which improve system operations and monitor grid security. These investments will benefit 7 million rural business and residential electric consumers across the country. Indiana’s projects include:
Tipmont REMC, with headquarters in Linden, will use a $61 million loan to build 33 miles of line, improve 95 miles and make other system improvements. The loan amount includes $42,164,538 for smart grid projects. It serves more than 27,000 consumers over 2,669 miles of line in Benton, Boone, Carroll, Clinton, Fountain, Montgomery, Tippecanoe and White counties in western Indiana. The economy of the service area is largely dependent on agricultural activity, with corn and soybeans being the principal crops.
South Central Indiana REMC, based in Martinsville, will use a $100 million loan to build 28 miles of line, improve 153 miles, and make other system improvements, including an investment of nearly $88,000 for smart grid technologies to continue to provide reliable and affordable service to meet member needs. South Central was among the 38 rural electric cooperatives in Indiana formed in the 1930s. It now serves 33,500 residential and commercial consumers through 3,559 miles of line.
In April 2017, President Donald J. Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January 2018, Secretary Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings to President Trump. These findings included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America. Increasing investments in rural infrastructure is a key recommendation of the task force.