Arizona tribe among recipients of federal infrastructure funding

(Facebook Photo/Navajo Tribal Utility Authority)

PHOENIX — The Navajo Tribal Utility Authority, located in Fort Defiance, Arizona, is receiving more than $235 million in federal funding to build and improve utility lines across the reservation.

The loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will be used to connect 1,340 consumers on the reservation to utilities. It will also fund transmission expansions and upgrades, construction of warehouse and headquarters facilities throughout the reservation and expanding smart grid technologies.

Additionally, 144 miles of transmission line and 221 miles of distribution line near Tuba City (owned by Arizona Public Service) and on the Hopi Reservation will be built with the investment, the USDA said.

A total of $598 million in funding will be distributed across 11 states to improve rural electric infrastructure, the USDA announced Tuesday.

“These USDA investments will bring affordable electric power to rural residents, Tribal communities, community facilities, schools and medical institutions that perform critical services each day,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a press release.

The funding comes through the department’s Electric Loan Program, which aims to helps finance wind, solar and natural gas plants, as well as improvements to produce clean energy from coal-fired plants, according to the organization.

“Now is the time for our nation to make significant investments in infrastructure — roads, bridges, broadband and energy — to improve quality of life and support good-paying jobs, transition to a clean energy economy, and keep the United States poised to lead the global economy,” Vilsack said.

Approximately 460,000 rural residents and businesses in Arizona, Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah and Virginia will benefit from the loans, according to the USDA.