As part of a $1.4 billion investment in rural electric infrastructure, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently provided Waynesville-based Haywood EMC with $24 million in funding.
The loan will benefit the cooperative and its members by maintaining and strengthening their systems, as well as contributing to job creation and economic development in rural North Carolina. Haywood EMC serves 27,000 consumers across eight counties in western North Carolina, and portions of two counties in northeastern Georgia and South Carolina.
According to Tom Batchelor, Haywood’s executive vice president and CEO, the funds will be used over the next four years to connect 1,800 new members, build and upgrade 58 miles of distribution line, build four miles of transmission line to raise the voltage and improve reliability, and upgrade the existing radio system from analog to digital. A total of $965,000 will also be used to upgrade and modify four existing substations, which will increase the protection and reliability at these locations. In addition, 7.2 miles of copper line will be replaced due to age.
This loan is financed through the USDA Electric Loan Program, which is providing funding for projects in 21 states that will help build and improve 6,886 miles of line to strengthen reliability in rural areas. The loans include $255.8 million for investments in smart grid infrastructure that uses digital communications technology.
USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.