USDA issues $148 million loan for rural energy upgrades
The USDA’s Rural Development has awarded a $148.8 million loan to a Hattiesburg-based rural electric partnership to finance system upgrades in 55 counties.
The Electric Loan Program financing for Hattiesburg’s Cooperative Energy, announced by U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, is among the loans issued to improve rural electricity services in 13 states.
“Greater demands are being made of rural electric cooperatives, and this long-term loan will allow Cooperative Energy to take on the evolving needs of rural Mississippians,” Hyde-Smith said in a news release. “I’m grateful USDA Rural Development is making this financing available.”
The 35-year loan will support environmental upgrades, gas turbine replacement, transmission line and substation construction and other improvements within Cooperative Energy’s jurisdiction, according to Hyde-Smith.
Tom Hall, Cooperative Energy’s senior vice president and chief financial officer, released the following statement regarding the loan:
“Funding through the USDA electric cooperative program provides low interest loans to not-for-profit utilities such as Cooperative Energy so that we may invest in our system and continue to provide affordable, reliable electricity for the nearly one million Mississippians served by our 11 Member systems. This loan will allow us to implement a number of projects designed to make our generation plants and transmission system more efficient. These projects include routine environmental upgrades and transmission line and substation construction and other improvements within Cooperative Energy’s system.”