U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced on Dec. 16, 2021, that the USDA is investing $5.2 billion to build and improve critical infrastructure in 46 states and Puerto Rico. The funding will expand access to high-speed internet, clean water and dependable electric power in homes and businesses in rural America.
More than $200 million in grants and loans will be invested in critical infrastructure in Illinois. Community Connect Grants totaling almost $5 million were awarded to Wabash Telephone, Louisville, and Jo-Carroll Energy, Inc., Elizabeth. The grants provide financial assistance to provide broadband service in rural, economically challenged communities where service does not exist.
Electric Infrastructure Loan and Loan Guarantee Program monies of almost $175 million will assist in financing construction of electric generation, transmission and generation facilities. Loans were given to Illinois Electric Cooperative, Winchester; Menard Electric Cooperative, Petersburg; and Hoosier Energy, Bloomington, Ind., the generation and transmission provider for Wayne-White Counties Electric Cooperative, Fairfield.
Funds, both grants and loans, were also provided for water and environmental programs for several Illinois municipal water programs including Clay County Water, Flora, and EJ Water, Dietrich.