Seven rural North Carolina co-ops and utilities are receiving $235 million in loans to expand and modernize the electric grid, improve grid security, make electricity transmission more reliable and efficient, and reduce costs for consumers.
More than 10,000 rural North Carolina residents will be connected to better, more reliable electric lines due to new funding from the Biden administration.
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced this week that it was investing $2.7 billion via the Electric Loan Program to help 64 electric cooperatives and utilities nationwide expand and modernize the rural electric grid and improve grid security.
About a quarter of those loans will help rural co-ops and utilities install and upgrade smart grid technologies, which can make electricity transmission more reliable and efficient, allow for quicker power restoration after outages, and reduce costs for consumers.
Seven North Carolina co-ops and utilities are receiving $235 million in loans, which will cover work through 2026. They are:
- The Carteret-Craven Electric Membership Cooperative in Newport, which will receive $28 million to connect 3,115 consumers and build and improve 132 miles of line.
- The Randolph Electric Membership Cooperative in Asheboro, which will receive $32 million to connect 2,115 consumers, and build and improve 426 miles of line.
- The Rutherford Electric Membership Cooperative in Forest City will get $38 million to connect 4,970 consumers and build 155 miles of line.
- The Cape Hatteras Electric Membership Cooperative in Buxton will get $19.5 million to connect 674 consumers, and build and improve 15 miles of line and transmission system upgrades.
- The French Broad Electric Membership Corporation, which is headquartered in Marshall, will get $45 million to connect 4,138 consumers in four counties in western North Carolina and two counties in Eastern Tennessee.
- The Broad River Electric Cooperative Inc, which is headquartered in South Carolina but also serves customers in Cleveland, Polk, and Rutherford counties in North Carolina, will get $20 million to connect 2,600 customers and build and improve 110 miles of line.
- The Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative, which is headquartered in Virginia but serves five counties in north central North Carolina, will get $53 million to connect 1,797 consumers and build and improve 316 miles of line.
“This funding will help the cooperative to invest in changes that will make our energy more efficient and more reliable,” Melissa Glenn, communications director for the Carteret-Craven Electric Membership Cooperative said in a statement. “These investments will benefit cooperative members for many years to come.”
USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack also touted the long-term benefits of the funding in his own statement.
“This funding will help rural cooperatives and utilities invest in changes that make our energy more efficient, more reliable, and more affordable,” Vilsack said. “Investing in infrastructure – roads, bridges, broadband and energy – supports good-paying jobs and keeps the United States poised to lead the global economy.”
The loans are just the latest effort from the Biden administration to invest in the nation’s infrastructure, particularly in rural communities. Over the first two years of the administration, the federal government passed laws investing tens of billions of dollars in North Carolina’s infrastructure, including efforts to connect rural residents to broadband, ramp up clean energy production and transmission, and make the state’s roads and bridges safer.
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