USDA approves $300 million for Midwest rural electric upgrades
Thursday, October 04, 2012 8:48 AM
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on Wednesday announced loan guarantees for two major projects to build and improve electric transmission lines serving Iowa.
The first of those, a $40.1 million loan guarantee to Cedar Rapids-based Central Iowa Power Cooperative (CIPCO) will be used to build and improve 115 miles of rural electric transmission lines throughout the state. The project is expected to improve electric service in 51 Iowa counties.
CIPCO generates and transmits electricity to 13 member-owned electric cooperatives and associations through approximately 1,900 miles of transmission lines.
"This loan guarantee will help ensure that residents of rural areas across Iowa have reliable, up-to-date electrical service," said Doug O'Brien, the USDA's deputy undersecretary for rural development. The guarantee also enables the cooperative to obtain a lower interest rate, "and being a cooperative, it will pass that savings on to the consumer," he said.
The USDA also approved a $261.9 million loan guarantee to Dairyland Power Cooperative of La Crosse, Wis., which will be used to build and improve 81 miles of transmission line to add system capacity, increase reliability and improve communications and control equipment. The project will benefit customers in Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois and Michigan.
Both of the loans included allocations for development of smart grid technologies to enable the electrical grid to operate more efficiently. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced last month that his department has met its goal to finance $250 million in smart grid technologies in fiscal year 2012.
To read a related Business Record story about electric transmission projects, click here.