December 22, 2021

Duckworth, Durbin Applaud USDA Programs Helping Ensure More Illinoisans Have Reliable Internet and Electricity


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) today announced that an infusion of support from the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Community Connect Grants Program and Electric Infrastructure Loan and Loan Guarantee Program to four Illinois communities and organizations. This federal support will help rural Illinois communities modernize their broadband and electricity infrastructure and make free, reliable Internet accessible for more residents.

“Showing up for rural communities means making sure every single Illinoisan has access to reliable electricity and broadband—no matter their zip code,” Duckworth said. “As we’ve seen throughout the pandemic, we know that Internet access is crucial for public health, education, quality of life and so much more. I’m proud to announce this support with Senator Durbin, and I will continue to advocate for updated infrastructure for working families all across Illinois and our nation.”

“The pandemic has underscored the importance of connectivity,” Durbin said. “Reliable electricity and broadband internet service are critical utilities for communities around the state. I’m pleased to join Senator Duckworth in announcing this federal funding today.”  

Under today’s announcement, the following Illinois communities and organizations will receive loans and grants through the USDA, totaling $54,030,163:

  • Wabash Telephone Cooperative Inc. is expected to receive a $2,599,863 grant to construct a mile-long fiber system in Clay County to increase Internet access for 542 residents and 8 businesses.
  • Jo-Carroll Energy, Incorporated is expected to receive a $2,347,300 grant to construct a 41 mile-long fiber system. In Jo Daviess County, internet access will be expanded and free Internet will be supplied to a community center for two years.
  • Menard Electric Coop is expected to receive a $23,476,000 loan to improve electricity distribution for 281 Illinoisans in central Illinois by building and improving 194 miles of line.
  • Illinois Electric Co. is expected to receive a $25,607,000 loan to improve electricity distribution for 300 Illinoisans in west central Illinois by building and improving 118 miles of line and installing 587 miles overhead of fiber optics cable.

Last month, President Biden signed the historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal into law which includes provisions that will provide broadband access to thousands of Illinoisans.

The USDA’s Community Connect Grants Program provides funding for broadband service in rural, working communities that lack service. The Electric Infrastructure Loan & Loan Guarantee Program provides funding for electricity distribution, generation facilities, renewable energy systems and system improvements in rural areas.