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A bureau within the U.S. Department of Commerce


Press Release

Commerce Investment Strengthens the Northeast Kingdom's Electrical Distribution Network in Vermont

$11.2 Million Grant to Vermont Electrical Cooperative will Advance Deployment of Broadband and Smart Grid Networks

Johnson, Vt. - U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development John Fernandez today announced an $11.2 million Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant to the Vermont Electrical Cooperative, Inc., (VEC) of Johnson, Vermont to boost the Northeast Kingdom's ability to attract and retain businesses and jobs by strengthening the electrical distribution network and advancing broadband and smart grid deployment. The project is expected to create more than 500 jobs, save more than 1,300 jobs and generate $27 million in private investment, according to grantee estimates."This EDA grant will support business investment in the wake of the region's severe weather in 2008," said U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic John Fernandez. "Improving the electrical distribution network will protect against the impact of future severe weather, expand broadband internet access and promote smart grid connectivity - steps critical to helping businesses grow and become more competitive."U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders said, "During the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, there is no better time to invest in good-paying jobs for Vermont working families while making much-needed infrastructure improvements. This is a win-win situation."U.S. Representative Peter Welch, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said, "Expanding broadband access and improving the reliability of the electrical system is critical to achieving economic development in the Northeast Kingdom. This grant will not only create much-needed jobs in the short term, it will also help lay the groundwork for the region's long-term economic growth and competitiveness.""This grant award provides VEC with the opportunity to improve reliability and expand the broadband infrastructure for Vermont's Northeast Kingdom," said Dave Hallquist, CEO of Vermont Electric Cooperative. "This project will make the region more attractive to new businesses, while strengthening the economic climate for existing businesses, like the furniture industry. Additional benefits will include increased border security and improved service in northern New Hampshire."Essex County was impacted by severe storms and floods in 2008. This EDA grant will help the VEC replace and relocate transmission line towers and poles between Derby and West Charleston and between Bloomfield and Canaan and replace the Island Pond Substation Transformer.When completed, the Smart Grid will employ real-time, two-way digital information and communication technologies in the operation of the nation's electricity grid. The system would allow consumers to better manage and control their energy use and costs, reduce America's dependence on foreign oil and create clean-energy jobs.About the U.S. Economic Development Administration (www.eda.gov): This year, the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) marks 45 years of public service, with a mission of leading the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing American regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. EDA is an agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce that partners with distressed communities throughout the United States to foster job creation, collaboration and innovation.