Southside Electric one of three rural co-ops looking to expand

Published 10:59 am Friday, March 3, 2023

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s $2.7 billion investment to help 64 electric cooperatives expand, modernize and secure the nation’s rural electric grid includes $177 million for three Virginia cooperatives.

The USDA’s Electric Infrastructure Loan & Loan Guarantee Program makes funds available to nonprofit and cooperative associations, public groups and other utilities, furthering the construction of electric distribution facilities in rural areas. This is welcome news for residents and farmers in areas dependent on outdated electrical infrastructure.

“Farm Bureau works hand-in-hand with rural electric cooperatives on the shared goal of ensuring that rural Virginia and the farmers who live there have access to reliable power and high-speed internet,” said Tony Banks, senior assistant director of agriculture, development and innovation for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation.

Southside Electric Cooperative is getting a $36 million USDA Rural Development loan to connect 2,773 consumers and build and improve 536 miles of electrical lines. Transmission pole replacements and transmission system upgrades also are included in the loan, which involves over $1.9 million in smart grid technologies. The cooperative is headquartered in Crewe and serves 57,949 consumers over 8,403 miles of line in 18 counties and one city in south-central Virginia.

CEO Jason Loehr said members will see an improved power delivery experience.

“The investment to our infrastructure will improve our electric grid’s resiliency, allowing it to distribute electricity more efficiently, and it will hold up better during extreme weather events,” he said. “This will ultimately help keep power bills reasonably priced and improve the reliability of our members’ electric service.”

Central Virginia Electric Cooperative’s $30 million Rural Development loan will be used to connect 1,699 customers, and build and improve 211 miles of line and transmission system upgrades. This loan includes $7 million in smart grid technologies. The cooperative is headquartered in Arrington and serves 38,275 consumers over 4,773 miles of line in 14 counties.

Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative is receiving a $111 million loan to connect 1,264 consumers and build and improve 404 miles of line. The loan includes $13.4 million for smart grid technologies. Headquartered in Manassas, the cooperative serves 176,604 consumers over 7,614 miles of line in six counties.

“Nationwide, these critical investments will benefit nearly 2 million rural people and businesses in many ways for decades to come,” said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. “This funding will help rural cooperatives and utilities invest in changes that make our energy more efficient, more reliable and more affordable.”