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USDA designates $1.8 billion to power infrastructure improvements

By Max Burkhalter
December 18, 2013

While the Department of Agriculture may not be the first federal organization thought of in terms of improving the nation's electric utility infrastructure, the group does have a divested interest in bringing smart grid support to rural America.

According to Smart Grid News, the USDA recently announced $1.8 billion in funding being dedicated toward electrical deployments in 25 states, in order to improve power delivery to over 37,000 rural communities, many of which include farm land. Smart grid investments are allocated at $45 million, while $73 million is to go toward renewable energy efforts and over $213 million to improving power distribution for Native Americans.

"Rural electric cooperatives have provided reliable, affordable power to rural communities for more than 75 years. Today's investments will help ensure our electric infrastructure continues to deliver reliable and affordable electricity for years to come," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said, according to the news source. "This funding is part of the Obama Administration's vision for a new rural energy economy and USDA's commitment to creating economic opportunity in rural America. Investments in smart grid technologies will continue to modernize our nation's electric system and improve operational efficiencies."

Increased investments into smart grid infrastructure provide utility companies and the government with improved ways to optimize power distribution in the ways it is needed most. This can help better support the nation's farms during times of duress, as well as reduce costs for rural areas that may have poor transmission capabilities. Additionally, it will help further green electricity efforts in the U.S.

In order to optimize power grid improvements and smart grid technologies, organizations have to ensure the hardware is in place to support the flow of both data and power. Providers can capitalize on the increased awareness of this trend by investing in enhanced serial to Ethernet converters, terminal servers and other essential hardware to support their own efforts and harness the potential of smarter electric utility disbursement. The nation's future relies on clean, renewable energy, and smart grids are helping make this a reality cheaply and sustainably.

Perle offers a range of cost effective serial-to-Ethernet converters to help meet NERC-CIP compliance for the protection of critical cyberassets in substations. The IOLAN SDS HV/LDC Terminal Server is designed to meet harsh environments associated with Power Substations with attributes such as support for substation AC and DC voltage ranges, extended operating temperatures and meeting emission, immunity and safety approvals associated with substation IT equipment.


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