WASHINGTON — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is investing $263.3 million to help modernize and improve the reliability of rural electric systems in eight states, including Indiana.  

In Indiana and Kentucky, the Owen Electric Cooperative will receive $30 million to build or improve 228 miles of line and make other system improvements. The loan includes $3,431,205 for smart grid projects.

“America’s infrastructure must be modernized if we are to continue to create jobs, expand opportunity and be competitive in the global economy,” Vilsack said.

“Modernizing our nation’s rural electric infrastructure will help better support economic development in rural areas while helping to ensure reliable and affordable electric service for people who live and work in small communities across the country.”  

The announcement includes nearly $20 million for smart grid improvements. Smart grid refers to the application of technologies designed to modernize our nation’s electric system.

These technologies increase the reliability of electric power by helping utilities better manage the electric grid, such as during peak demand, to improve operational efficiencies.

The loans will build or improve more than 3,700 miles of line in rural areas.