The U.S. Department of Agriculture will extend loans and loan guarantees to rural electric cooperatives and utilities through a new Electric Loan Program in 21 states including South Carolina.
Recipients will use the roughly $1.6 billion in total funding toward the construction and improvement of 9,138 miles of electric transmission and distribution line, according to a news release. About $387 million has been set aside for investments in smart grid technology, which uses digital communications to detect and react to electrical usage changes on a local level.
The program has extended a $70 million loan to build 35 miles of transmission line for South Carolina’s Central Electric Power Cooperative, including a $758,000 investment for smart grid technologies. The cooperative provides electrical service to 20 retail cooperatives in 46 counties across the state.
“Reliable and modern 21st century infrastructure, including electric infrastructure and smart grid technologies, is a cornerstone for prosperity in rural America,” U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said in the release.
The USDA also invested in electrical infrastructure through the program in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin.