U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue recently announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is investing $3.1 billion to build or improve rural electric infrastructure in 25 states, including a $51.1 million loan to North Carolina Electric Membership Corporation for generation system improvements at Catawba Nuclear Station, located in York County, S.C. NCEMC owns a 61.51 percent share of the station’s Unit 1, and emissions-free nuclear currently accounts for 57 percent of its power portfolio.
“This loan will be used to fund numerous capital improvement projects at Catawba Nuclear Station to ensure it continues to operate safely and reliably for many years to come,” said Scott Brame, NCEMC’s Manager of Compliance and Jointly Owned Resources. Among the most significant projects the loan is funding are low pressure turbine replacements for both units, main step-up transformer replacements, protective relaying replacements, reactor coolant pump replacements and security upgrades.
NCEMC also received a $16.6 million USDA loan last year to fund more than 100 capital projects aimed at improving Catawba Nuclear Station’s reliability of service, security and IT capability. The single largest capital expenditure included in that loan was new control rod assemblies that regulate the nuclear chain reaction used to generate electricity.
Continued investment in nuclear power plays a prominent role in reaching voluntary sustainability goals announced by the state’s electric cooperatives this summer as part of their Brighter Future vision. These goals include achieving a 50 percent reduction in carbon emissions from 2005 levels by 2030 and net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, while also preserving the reliability and affordability of the electricity provided to cooperative members. The vision also extends beyond power to encompass investments in education, economic development and community enrichment that contribute to a brighter future for rural North Carolina.
Similarly, 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.
Through this latest round of funding, USDA is investing in 53 projects through its Electric Loan Program that will benefit 1.4 million rural residents and businesses in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.
For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.