WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns announced that $92 million in electric loans will be provided to utilities in 10 states. An estimated 14,093 new customers will be served, and 850 miles of distribution lines will be constructed.

The funds are being provided through USDA Rural Development's Electric Program.

"The Rural Electric Program is an important tool as we continue to upgrade the nation's power grid and provide for the needs of rural residents," said Johanns. "Reliable electric service is a key to developing rural economic opportunities and other infrastructure."

Utilities in the following states will receive loans: Colo., Ga., Iowa, Ind., Ky., Minn., Mo., Mont. Neb. and Wyo. For example, In Kentucky, the Jackson Purchase Energy Corporation will receive a $12,167,000 loan to improve electric service in six counties, constructing 74 miles of new distribution lines and making other system improvements. An estimated 1,235 new customers will be served. The Gunnison County Electric Association in Colorado will receive a $5,738,000 loan to construct 33 miles of new distribution lines and make system improvements, providing service to 1,122 new customers in a three county area.

A complete list of the loan recipients is available online.

USDA Rural Development Electric Programs provide leadership and capital to upgrade, expand, maintain, and replace America's rural electric infrastructure. Under the authority of the Rural Electrification Act of 1936, the Electric Programs make direct loans and loan guarantees to electric utilities to serve customers in rural areas. The loans and loan guarantees finance the construction of electric distribution, transmission, and generation facilities, including system improvements and replacement required to furnish and improve electric service in rural areas. In the past six years, USDA Rural Development has made 1,134 electric loans valued at over $23.9 billion.

USDA Rural Development's mission is to increase economic opportunity and improve the quality of life in rural communities.

SOURCE: USDA news release.