Lewis County Electric Cooperative receives USDA loan

Published: May. 6, 2022 at 5:23 PM CDT
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LEWISTOWN, Mo. (WGEM) - The Lewis County Rural Electric Cooperative has received a $13.4 million loan from the USDA to help for maintenance costs, upgrade costs and more.

The four year rural development loan will help connect more consumers, and upgrade more than 60 miles of line across Lewis County.

Lewis County REC General Manager Shawn Walling said these loans are a necessary part of running an electric cooperative since it is a non-profit organization.

He said keeping the equipment updated and well maintained helps continue their goal of providing reliable, affordable and safe energy to their members.

More than $2 million of the loan is set aside to help fund smart grid technology across the county.

Walling said a special aspect of this loan compared to previous ones is the smart grid funding, which would help the county prepare for the increased demand of electric cars.

“Electric vehicles are starting to make a push into more American homes. And with more people having those vehicles, we have to have the ability to serve that load and bring the electricity from the generators, through our lines and to the home,” said Walling.

He said this is important given the electric buses that are operated within the county.

“Here in Lewis County we have two school districts that have electric buses. One school district has three, one of them has one. That is a substantial load. It’s about equivalent to a subdivision when you have two buses, so that’s a good load that comes on, it’s a lot of demand,” said Walling.

In addition to providing for maintenance and upgrade costs, the loan will also help with the ongoing battle against price increases.

“The supply chain is one of the biggest concerns that we currently have. We’ve had transformers that used to cost $800 are now costing $1,400. Poles are up anywhere from 10 to 40 percent depending upon the class of pole. Fuel is up so the vehicles we drive... fuel costs are increasing there,” said Walling.

He said if any Co-Op members are looking into major system upgrades, he recommends notifying the Co-Op as soon as possible due to increasing product wait times.

You can find out more information about the Lewis County REC here.

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