Two new smart grid projects in North Dakota and South Dakota will help improve electric service for consumers at Northern Electric Cooperative and West Central Electric Cooperative, Inc. by implementing advancements in communications technology. A smarter electric grid can help improve service by increasing reliability and better managing costs.
A smart grid is also key to “Smart Growth.” As we plan for the future, we want rural communities to take advantage of every resource, including advancements in technology and infrastructure, to build a sustainable and dynamic future that will benefit rural residents. That’s Smart Growth.
A variety of technologies can be characterized as components of smart grid. Advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) is one of them. Approximately half of rural electric cooperatives have installed these meters in their systems. Among the advantages of AMI is the ability of rural electric utilities to more efficiently identify power outages and expedite restoration of service.
USDA plays a major role in building a smarter grid. During the last fiscal year, the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS), a Rural Development agency, funded over $250 million in smart grid projects. These projects in the Dakotas, totaling over $1.2 million, are the first of many more anticipated during the current fiscal year. During the coming year, RUS will invest in smart grid projects to help rural electric cooperative utilities continue to improve electric efficiency and reliability for their rural business and residential consumers.
To learn more about USDA’s energy programs and how they can benefit you and your community or business, click here.