OKLAHOMA (KFOR) – The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $1.6 billion to build or improve rural electric infrastructure in 21 states, including Oklahoma.
“Improvements to rural infrastructure, whether it is maintenance, expansion, or modernization is essential to quality of life for our rural customers,” said Dr. Lee Denney, USDA-Rural Development State Director. “Oklahoma is pleased to announce that three eastern Oklahoma counties, Adair, LeFlore and Sequoyah, will benefit from this investment.”
USDA is providing loans and loan guarantees to rural electric cooperatives and utilities through the Electric Loan Program. The recipients will use the funds to build and improve 9,138 miles of electric transmission and distribution line, benefiting 1 million rural residents and businesses. The loans include nearly $386 million for investments in smart grid technology, which uses digital communications to detect and react to local changes in electricity usage.
Oklahoma is among 21 states included in the program.
In the Sooner State, the Arkansas Valley Electric Cooperative Corporation, based in Ozark, Ark., serves three counties in Oklahoma and 10 counties in Arkansas. This loan of more than $151 million will be used to install 6,140 miles of fiber-optic cable for Smart Grid purposes on 100 percent of Arkansas Valley’s power distribution lines. Arkansas Valley serves nearly 60,000 members across 6,622 miles of line.