Jackson EMC and Sawnee EMC are getting a combined $419 million as part of a federal program in 21 states aimed at building and improving rural electric infrastructure.
The financing is provided through the government's Electric Loan Program and totals $1.4 billion, according to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. It will help build and improve 6,886 miles of line to strengthen reliability in rural areas, according to a USDA news release. The loans include $255.8 million for investments in smart grid infrastructure that uses digital communications technology to detect and react to local changes in electricity usage.
“Modern and reliable electric infrastructure has been a cornerstone to rural prosperity since the Rural Electrification Act of 1936,” Perdue said. “This funding we are providing is critical to rural communities and reflects President Trump’s commitment to increasing prosperity across all of rural America. When rural America thrives, all of America thrives.”
Sawnee EMC, which serves nearly 180,000 customers in seven counties, including Hall and Forsyth, is getting $229 million to connect 25,650 customers and build and improve 1,275 miles of distribution line.
Jackson EMC, which provides electric service to almost 236,000 customers over 14,000 miles of line in parts of ten northeast Georgia counties will use its $190 million to connect 25,650 customers and build and improve 1,275 miles of distribution line.
In addition to Georgia, this latest round of financing includes projects in Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont and Wisconsin. USDA will make additional funding announcements in coming weeks.
In April 2017, President Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January 2018, Secretary Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings to President Trump. These findings included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America. Increasing investments in rural infrastructure is a key recommendation of the task force.