Feds unleash $202 million to upgrade rural electric service, including $20 million in Tennessee

Feds unleash $202 million to upgrade rural electric service, including $20 million in Tennessee

February 28th, 2017 by Staff Report in Breaking News

EPB employees work in the all-new, state-of-the-art Distribution Center designed to compliment the citywide Smart Grid and fiber optic network.

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will make $202 million in loans to electric cooperatives in nine states to help bolster and modernize their electric grids. 

The loans, which include $14.7 million for Smart Grid technology similar to what already exists in Chattanooga, are expected to help create jobs and support new technology. 

Tennessee's Tri-County Electric Cooperative will receive $20 million to build or improve 166 miles of line and make other system improvements. The loan includes $1.3 million for Smart Grid improvements, according to a news release from the USDA. 

Chattanooga received a $111.6 million federal grant to build its grid, though the entire project cost about $369 million, according to a Harvard study. After its rollout of the new electric grid, which is undergirded by fiber-optic cable, Chattanooga's city-owned utility, EPB, began offering TV and Internet service, including the Western Hemisphere's first citywide gigabit service. 

Other states getting loans include:

Kansas

  • Twin Valley Electric Cooperative – $8 million to build or improve 44 miles of line. The loan includes $41,800 for Smart Grid projects.

Missouri

  • Gascosage Electric Cooperative – $10.2 million to build or improve 50 miles of line and make system upgrades. More than $224,000 will be invested in Smart Grid projects.

North Dakota

  • Kem Electric Cooperative – $12 million to build or improve 130 miles of line and make system upgrades. The loan includes $288,000 for Smart Grid projects.
  • Roughrider Electric Cooperative, Inc. – $68 million to build or improve 453 miles of line and make system upgrades. About $1.2 million will support Smart Grid projects.

Ohio

  • Hancock-Wood Electric Cooperative – $25 million to build or improve 191 miles of line and make system upgrades. Approximately $2.6 million will support Smart Grid projects.

Oklahoma

  • Red River Valley Rural Electric Association – $4.7 million to build or improve 22 miles of line.

South Carolina

  • Aiken Electric Cooperative – $44 million to build or improve 342 miles of line and make other system improvements. Nearly $9 million will be invested in Smart Grid projects.

Texas

  • Comanche County Electric Cooperative – $9.6 million to build or improve 105 miles of line and make other system improvements. The loan includes $94,000 to support Smart Grid projects.

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