Loans will pay for utility improvements
By MIKE CORN
WaKEENEY -- Western Cooperative Electric has been pre-approved for as much as $16.5 million in loans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, but it will benefit customers across the district rather than a select few.
In a statement, the USDA suggested the money would be used to serve 200 customers and build 349 miles of distribution line, as well as make other system improvements.
Not so, as the money will benefit customers throughout the entire district.
It's the system improvements, said Western manager Darrin Lynch, that will be key to the money -- what it's expected to cost to pay for system-wide improvements during the course of the next four years.
Those improvements include updating substations across the cooperative's service area.
It won't, however, include routine maintenance, Lynch said of the money Western is getting from USDA's Rural Utilities Service.
Instead, the money will go to improvements included in a four-year work plan precipitating Western's request for $16.5 million in loans to cover the projects.
"We look ahead four years, and then we apply for a loan," Lynch said of the process.
He said it's a process similar to being pre-approved for a loan at the bank.
"With interest rates what they are," he said, "it makes sense to borrow the money now."