As part of a series of Biden administration activities focused on rural America, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture will provide $671.4 million in loans and grants for projects to build and upgrade energy grid, drinking water and wastewater treatment infrastructure in rural areas. 

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the funding awards on May 14 during a White House event dealing with administration actions aimed at assisting rural communities, including their infrastructure needs. 

Vilsack said in a statement that the financial assistance will go to “critical infrastructure that will build a more resilient power grid and ensure safe drinking water for hundreds of thousands of people living and working in rural areas.”

In all, the USDA aid will go to 47 projects in 23 states.

Of the total dollars, $646.6 million is loans and $24.9 million is in the form of grants.

The largest award in the group is a $155-million loan to the Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative Inc., headquartered in Pickens, S.C., to build and upgrade 586 miles of transmission lines.

South Carolina also received another major power-sector award, an $85.7-million loan to Aiken Electric Cooperative. It will go toward constructing and improving 192 miles of line and to build a new headquarters for the company.

Also among the larger awards is a $122.5-million loan to United Electric Cooperative Services Inc. in Cleburne, Texas. It will help to finance construction of 607 miles of line and include installing 74 miles of fiber-optic cable. 

The drinking water and wastewater treatment awards include a $7.8-million loan to the Eastern Idaho Regional Solid Waste District. Funds will help to finance development of a new municipal solid waste landfill for four counties in eastern Idaho.

The city of Monticello, Iowa, is receiving a $7.3-million loan, which the USDA says will provide additional funding for the city to upgrade its wastewater treatment system.