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U.S. Invests $2.7 Billion in Rural Electrical Infrastructure Upgrades

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Is Investing Billions To Expand and Modernize Rural Electrical Grid

In January 2023, the Biden-Harris Administration announced that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) would be investing $2.7 billion to assist 64 cooperatives and utilities in expanding and modernizing the rural electric grid across the country.

The funding, part of the Electric Loan Program, will be earmarked for projects across 26 states and will impact nearly 2 million people and businesses. Additionally, $613 million of the loans will be specifically used to deploy or upgrade smart grid technologies to improve the reliability and security of the grid. Smart grid technologies can also be used as a springboard for broadband infrastructure deployment and improvements in under or unserved communities. 

What Is The Electric Loan Program?

The Electric Loan Program, which is funded by the USDA and governed by the Rural Electrification Act of 1936, is a program that makes insured loans and loan guarantees to cooperatives, non-profits, public bodies, and other utilities for the express purpose of expanding the availability of electricity in rural areas throughout the country. 

The loans can be used to finance the construction of electric distribution, transmission, and generation facilities and provide for system replacements or improvements in rural areas. The loans are open to most power supply providers that serve qualifying rural areas. 

How Will The Funds Be Used?

Some examples of the projects that will be funded, as provided by the USDA, are:

  • The Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative is receiving a $111 million loan to connect 1,264 consumers and build and improve 404 miles of line. The loan includes $13.4 million for smart grid technologies. Northern Virginia Electric, headquartered in Manassas, serves 176,604 consumers over 7,614 miles of line in six counties.
  • The Carteret-Craven Electric Membership Cooperative in Newport, North Carolina, is receiving a $28 million loan to connect 3,115 consumers and build and improve 132 miles of line. The loan includes $169,437 for smart grid technologies. Carteret-Craven Electric serves 41,655 consumers through 2,493 miles of line in four counties in southeastern North Carolina.
  • Minnesota’s Beltrami Electric Cooperative is receiving a $22.7 million loan to connect 1,480 consumers and build and improve 225 miles of line. The loan includes $1.3 million for smart grid technologies. Beltrami Electric is headquartered in Bemidji, Minnesota. It serves 21,772 consumers in portions of Beltrami, Cass, Clearwater, Hubbard, Itasca, and Koochiching counties, with 3,500 miles of distribution line covering approximately 3,000 square miles.

It is expected that in the coming months, more announcements will be made regarding additional energy funding since the administration’s Inflation Reduction Act has allocated over $12 billion to the USDA to “expand clean energy, transform rural power production, create jobs, and spur economic growth.”

What Does This All Mean?

It’s incredibly exciting to see that the rural infrastructure in the U.S. is about to get a major overhaul. The funding being provided, including to the specific projects mentioned above, will be used for applications very similar to those that MCA proudly offers, such as:

  • Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) to help improve in-building public safety and cellular communications at secure power generation and distribution facilities.
  • Cellular Backhaul and LoRaWan Connectivity for remote monitoring of FLISR systems, demand response systems, voltage regulators, and other key components of power distribution infrastructure.
  • Private LTE (with optional components for operation onf the Anterix 900 MhZ band) with Motorola Nitro for secure voice, video, and data communications utilizing primary T1 lines when available.
  • Radio Communications for field service workers and their vehicles, and internal facility communications for engineering, operations, and security teams.
  • Video Surveillance Solutions with intelligent AI to deter theft, vandalism, terrorist activities, and more at primary facilities and remote substations..
  • Vehicle Solutions for in-vehicle computing (featuring Panasonic devices), vehicle upfits (lighting, consoles, mounts, and storage boxes), and in-vehicle connectivity (VAN) enabled by our offering of ruggedized 4G and 5G mobile routers.
  • Remote Terminal Units for SCADA system communications and sensor monitoring.

About MCA

Mobile Communications America (MCA) is one of the largest and most trusted integrators in the United States, offering world-class voice, data, and security solutions that enhance the quality, safety, and productivity of customers, operations, and lives. More than 65,000 customers trust MCA to provide carefully researched solutions for a safe, secure, and more efficient workplace. As your trusted advisor, we reduce the time and effort needed to research, install, and maintain the right solutions to make your workplace better.  

Our team of certified professionals across the United States delivers a full suite of reliable technologies with a service-first approach. The MCA advantage is our extensive service portfolio to support the solution lifecycle from start to finish.

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