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Oconto Electric Cooperative gets $12.9M loan to help to modernize, expand electric grid

From Staff Reports  


    OCONTO FALLS - Oconto Electric Cooperative will get a $12.9 million loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help expand and modernize its rural electric grid and increase grid security, Julie Lassa, the USDA Rural Development state director, announced Monday.

    The loan will help connect 614 consumers, and build and improve 157 miles of line.

    The loan also includes $325,000 in smart grid technologies. Smart grid can be a catalyst for broadband and other telecommunications services in unserved and underserved rural areas in addition to improving grid security and reliability.

    “These are exciting, long-term infrastructure investments that will help rural electric cooperatives and utilities build and improve their systems,” Lassa said. “Ultimately, this investment will strengthen opportunities in our rural communities while making the electric infrastructure more reliable and affordable for the residents and businesses who depend on it.”

    Oconto Electric serves 10,068 consumers over 1,500 miles of line in five counties in northeastern Wisconsin.

    Elsewhere in Wisconsin, Chippewa Valley Electric Cooperative, based in Cornell, will get a $6.5 million loan to connect 573 consumers and build and improve 75 miles of line. This loan includes $424,700 in smart grid technologies.

    Overall, the USDA is investing $613 million in 64 projects through the Electric Loan Program. This funding will benefit nearly 2 million rural people and businesses in Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

    The program can help finance wind, solar and natural gas plants, as well as improvements to produce cleaner energy from coal-fired plants. Local utilities also use the loans to invest in infrastructure to deliver affordable power to millions of residential, commercial and agricultural consumers.

    In the coming months, USDA will announce additional energy infrastructure financing. The Inflation Reduction Act provided more than $12 billion to USDA for loans and grants to expand clean energy, transform rural power production, create jobs and spur economic growth.

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    This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press-Gazette: Oconto Electric Cooperative gets $12.9M loan to help to modernize, expand electric grid


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