ORLANDO, Fla., March 7, 2011—Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that rural electric cooperatives in eight states will upgrade services to more than 24,000 rural consumers with loan guarantee financing provided by USDA. Vilsack made the announcement during the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) annual meeting in Orlando, Florida.
The $442 million in funding is being awarded through USDA Rural Development’s Rural Utilities Service to assist electric utilities with upgrades, expansion, maintenance, and replacement of rural America’s electric infrastructure. Over $9 million of these loans will support investments in smart grid technology through the use of automated metering. The USDA electric program also helps fund energy conservation and renewable energy projects.
The following loan guarantees were approved for the Show Me State. 
Osage Valley Electric Cooperative Association — $17,150,000. This project will serve 1,240 consumers, build and improve 191 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements.
Gasconade Electric Cooperative — $6,500,000. Funding will be used to benefit 700 consumers, build and improve 73 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements.
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 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 $146 billion in loans and loan guarantees.