The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is providing a $75 million loan to Arkansas Electric Co-op Corporations through the Electric Infrastructure Loan and Loan Guarantee Program.
As part of the Electric Loan Program, Arkansas Electric Co-op is receiving the money to build and improve electric transmission and distribution lines across the state, which will benefit thousands of residents in rural areas. The loan also includes funding for smart grid technology, which uses digital communications to detect and react to local changes in electricity usage. The 2018 Farm Bill reauthorized these programs, allowing USDA to carry out rural broadband initiatives.
Members of Arkansas’ Congressional delegation – U.S. Sens. John Boozman and Tom Cotton; U.S. Reps. Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman – released a statement praising the loan.
“Rural broadband connectivity has always been an issue in Arkansas. As digital communications become more important to daily life, every Arkansan should at least have the option to connect to fast, reliable internet. These funds will be instrumental to aiding electric companies in improving their broadband infrastructure, and we thank USDA Secretary Perdue for his continued support of rural America,” members said.