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042119 tornado

Crews from Edisto Electric repair utility lines in a swampy, wooded area on Hudson Road near Branchville on April 20. The National Weather Service confirmed that a tornado touched down in the area on the afternoon of April 19.

COLUMBIA – Edisto Electric Cooperative is receiving a $30 million loan to build and improve 319 miles of line and invest $3.2 million in smart-grid technologies.

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The improvements will enhance system resilience and reliability. Edisto, headquartered in Bamberg, serves more than 20,000 residential and commercial consumers over nearly 3,600 miles of line in eight counties in South Carolina.

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Acting Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Joel Baxley announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is providing $858 million in loans to upgrade rural electric systems in 17 states. The funding includes $64 million to finance smart-grid technologies that improve system operations and monitor grid security.

“Investing in our nation’s electric infrastructure powers our economy, creates jobs and helps deliver services such as education, training and health care to build stronger rural communities,” Baxley said. “These loans will help rural electric cooperatives generate and distribute power to keep systems reliable and affordable for those who live and work in rural areas.”

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In addition to Edisto Electric, USDA is investing in 16 other projects through the Electric Loan Program in Arkansas, Arizona, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia and West Virginia. This funding will help build and improve 3,741 miles of line to improve electric reliability and resilience in rural areas.

In April 2017, President Donald Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January 2018, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue presented the task force’s findings to Trump.

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The findings included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America. Increasing investments in rural infrastructure is a key recommendation of the task force

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