Smart Grid Boost in MN

Monday, November 9, 2015 @ 06:11 PM gHale


Nearly $222 million in loans will end up distributed to build and improve rural electric infrastructure in rural communities throughout Minnesota, federal officials said.

USDA Rural Development is awarding loans to 16 utilities and cooperatives throughout Minnesota. These loans will help build or improve 12,000 miles of transmission and distribution lines.

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Local borrowers include $15.2 million to BENCO Electric Co-op; $21 million to McLeod Cooperative Power Association; $12 million to Minnesota Valley Electric Co-Op; $11 million to South Central Electric Association; $8 million to Brown County Rural Electric Association; $8 million to Redwood Electric Co-op; and $7.7 million to Steele-Waseca Co-Operative Electric.

The funding includes more than $48 million for smart grid technology and $6.4 million for storm damage repairs. These loans will help build or improve 3,303 miles of transmission and distribution lines.

The funding is coming through the USDA Rural Development’s Electric Program, which makes loans and loan guarantees to nonprofit and cooperative associations, public bodies and other utilities, primarily for electric distribution in rural areas.

Nationwide, USDA is awarding loans to 77 utilities and cooperatives in 31 states – totaling more than $2.2 billion. The funding includes over $108 million for smart grid technology, $41 million for renewable energy improvements and $9 million for storm damage repairs.