US: The United States Department of Agriculture has announced $349 million in funding for rural electric infrastructure projects. Out of this, $17 million have been set aside exclusively for smart grid technology. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is positive that upgrading the electric grid will not only improve reliability and better manage costs, but it will also bring jobs and increased economic opportunities. Smart grid increases the reliability of electric power by helping utilities better manage the grid. This includes metering, substation automation, computer applications, two-way communications and GIS. The funding is being provided through USDA Rural Development's Electric Programme.