COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) – The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced Tuesday that South Carolina is receiving $257 million in electric infrastructure for rural communities.

The announcement was made in honor of President Biden’s Infrastructure Week and will provide investments for three electric cooperatives across the Palmetto State: the Aiken Electric Cooperative (AEC), the Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative (BREC) and the Haywood Electric Membership Corporation (Haywood EMC).

These investments are intended to help utility providers and electric cooperatives to improve electric infrastructure, smart-grid technologies and renewable energy systems.

While BREC and Haywood EMC are focused solely on the Upstate, AEC will impact the Midlands, serving over 50,000 members along 5,679 miles of distribution throughout Calhoun, Lexington, Orangeburg and Saluda counties. The Aiken Electric Cooperative is receiving $14,500,723 in smart grid technologies, according to USDA.

“These critical investments will help create seamless smart grid electric networks and will help increase economic opportunities for people living and working in these rural communities,” said USDA South Carolina Acting State Director George W. Hicks, Jr.

The department said the projects are funded through the Electric Infrastructure Loan and Loan Guarantee Program.

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