WASHINGTON, D.C. - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that 50 rural utilities and cooperatives in 31 states have been selected to receive guaranteed loans that will benefit more than 183,000 rural electric cooperative consumers by financing the construction and repair of over 15,000 miles of distribution and transmission lines, including over $310 million invested in renewable energy.

"USDA's investment in electric systems will finance reliable and affordable electric power to homes and business in rural America," Vilsack said. "Affordable rates and reliable service are essential to rural economic development by encouraging businesses to locate or stay in rural areas."

The $2.9 billion is funded by USDA Rural Development's Rural Utilities Service. This funding assists with upgrades, expansion, maintenance, and replacement of rural America's electric transmission, distribution lines and generating equipment. The Electric Program also helps fund energy conservation and renewable energy projects.

For example, Basin Electric Power Cooperative, based in Bismarck, ND, has been selected for $153,396,000 in loan guarantees for two wind projects. Together these projects will provide 120 MW of renewable electricity. Combined with Basin's previous wind investments, they are expected to represent over 600 MW of wind generation--enough to power the average annual needs of 175,000 homes.

A loan guarantee of $84 million for Central Virginia Electric Cooperative will finance partial ownership interest in two renewable energy hydroelectric projects being developed by American Municipal Power, Inc. in Kentucky. These projects are expected to provide over 14.5 MW of electricity to meet anticipated economic growth in the region.

A loan guarantee of nearly $110 million for Kauai Island Cooperative in Hawaii includes nearly $73 million for hydro plant improvements and a 10 MW naphtha/biodiesel fueled combustion turbine. Read more about RUS' renewable energy support here.

Funding of each recipient is contingent upon their meeting the conditions of the guaranteed loan agreement. For a complete list of the rural utilities that were selected for funding, please click here.

USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages more than 40 housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of 6,100 employees located in the nation's capital and nearly 500 state and local offices. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of nearly $142 billion in loans and loan guarantees.