Quarter Billion in Loans for Co-ops

The Agriculture Department has announced a loan guarantee of more than $250 million for eight electric cooperatives in seven states.

USDA has announced more than $250 million for eight co-ops for electric upgrades and smart grid advances in seven states. (Photo By: Garrett Hubbard Studios)

USDA has announced more than $250 million for eight co-ops for electric upgrades and smart grid advances in seven states. (Photo By: Garrett Hubbard Studios)

The funding from the USDA's Rural Utilities Service includes $22.4 million to help co-ops advance smart grid technologies. Overall, the loans will support the construction or improvement of 1,369 miles of power lines, according to Roger Glendenning, acting deputy undersecretary for rural development.

"These loans will help improve the delivery of reliable electricity, and will help ensure that rural areas nationwide can prosper economically and benefit from today's technologies to meet tomorrow's needs," said Glendenning.

GreyStone Power Corporation will use a $90.3 million loan to build 148 miles of distribution line in its service area. In recent years, favorable economic conditions have boosted the Douglasville, Georgia, co-op's membership by 1.5 percent to 2 percent. The package, which includes $9.1 million for smart grid projects, will help it keep pace with growth said Bill Sharpton, vice president of operations and engineering at the co-op.

"The upgrades will help GreyStone continue to meet its members' needs as new housing numbers rise substantially after many years of anemic growth. Also, commercial and industrial businesses continue to locate and expand into GreyStone's attractive eight-county metro Atlanta service territory, which in turn is credited with driving economic growth," said Sharpton.

Two co-ops in Ohio received loans. In Bellefontaine, a $4.3 million loan will help Logan County Cooperative Power and Light Association build 40 miles of line and invest more than $428,000 in smart grid technologies. Lorain-Medina REC in Wellington will use a $9.4 million loan to build nearly 50 miles of line and invest nearly $1 million in smart grid projects.

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