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Rural U.S. businesses, residents to get $8m for better electricity

Staff writer |
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced funding for projects in seven states, including Minnesota, to improve electric service for about 7,000 rural customers. More than $5 million is for smart grid projects and nearly $3 million for improving electric service for Native Americans.

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Rural Utilities Service Administrator John Padalino made the announcement on the Secretary's behalf during a regional meeting of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. The loan guarantees are made available through the Rural Utilities Service of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development. They include more than $5 million for smart grid projects and nearly $3 million to improve electric service for Native Americans.

"These investments will continue to ensure that safe, reliable and affordable electric service is available for rural residents, farmers, and commercial and industrial consumers. This funding is part of the Obama Administration's vision for a new rural energy economy. It includes investments in smart grid technologies that modernize our nation's electric system and improve system operation," said Mr. Padalino.

In Minnesota, Rural Development will finance nearly $16 million in loan guarantees to build more than 200 miles of line and finance more than $1.7 million in smart grid technologies for two projects. North Itasca Electric Co-op will receive nearly $6 million, and Mille Lacs Energy Cooperative will get nearly $10 million to keep electric power reliable and affordable for rural customers.

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