HomeSouth CarolinaFederal USDA funding to support three major projects in South Carolina

Federal USDA funding to support three major projects in South Carolina

Columbia, South Carolina – On May 14, during Infrastructure Week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) revealed plans to fund three electric infrastructure projects in South Carolina. These projects aim to provide reliable electricity to over 121,000 residents and are expected to generate numerous well-paying jobs throughout the state.

This announcement comes as part of efforts by the Biden-Harris Administration to enhance America’s infrastructure, supported by significant legislation like the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act.

“USDA is investing over $257 million in electric infrastructure funding for rural communities located in rural South Carolina,” stated USDA South Carolina Acting State Director George W. Hicks, Jr. “These critical investments will help create seamless smart grid electric networks and will help increase economic opportunities for people living and working in these rural communities,” continued Hicks.

Officials from the USDA noted that this funding is sourced from the Electric Infrastructure Loan and Loan Guarantee Program. This program aids utility providers and electric cooperatives in constructing and upgrading electric infrastructure, incorporating smart-grid technology, and developing renewable energy solutions.

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According to USDA officials, these initiatives are designed to provide reliable electricity to rural areas, enhancing both economic opportunities and the quality of life for residents. One specific project involves Aiken Electric Cooperative, which will use the funding to connect 3,588 consumers. Additionally, the project includes the construction and improvement of 192 miles of line and the building of new headquarters facilities.

Aiken Electric Cooperative currently serves an average of 50,951 members, distributing electricity across 5,679 miles of lines in several South Carolina counties including Barnwell, Calhoun, Edgefield, Greenwood, Lexington, McCormick, Orangeburg, Saluda, and Aiken.

As part of its efforts under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA Rural Development offers loans and grants. These financial aids aim to broaden economic opportunities, support job creation, and enhance living conditions for millions of Americans residing in rural communities.

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About the USDA projects

These projects will help ensure everyone in rural areas has access to reliable electricity to increase economic opportunity and quality of life:

  • Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative Inc. will use funding to connect 8,480 consumers and build and improve 586 miles of line. Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative Inc. is headquartered in Pickens and has a district office located in Westminster, South Carolina. The co-op provides electric services to an average of 70,160 members through 7,279 miles of line in Anderson, Greenville, Oconee, Pickens, and Spartanburg counties located in northwest South Carolina. This loan includes $51,871,000 in smart grid technologies including the installation of 978 miles of fiber cable.
  • Aiken Electric Cooperative will use funding to connect 3,588 consumers, build and improve 192 miles of line, and construct headquarter facilities. Aiken Electric is headquartered in Aiken, South Carolina serving an average of 50,951 members through 5,679 miles of distribution line in parts of Barnwell, Calhoun, Edgefield, Greenwood, Lexington, McCormick, Orangeburg, Saluda, and Aiken counties in South Carolina. This loan includes $14,500,723 in smart grid technologies.
  • Haywood EMC will use funding to connect 919 consumers and build 70 miles of line. Haywood Electric is headquartered in Waynesville, North Carolina and provides electric service to an average of 28,299 members through 3,013 miles of distribution line. This line will run through portions of Buncombe, Haywood, Jackson, Macon, Madison, and Transylvania counties in North Carolina; Oconee County in South Carolina; and Raybun County in the state of Georgia.

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