NRECA and electric co-ops are building on early COVID-19 relief successes by elevating their message for Congress to include ongoing co-op priorities in the next pandemic response package.
Initial results of NRECA’s advocacy in Congress include the Department of Health and Human Services releasing $900 million in supplemental Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funding for fiscal year 2020. The funds, passed in the CARES Act (H.R. 748), are helping vulnerable Americans in communities hit hard by the growing economic crisis.
NRECA also worked with the Treasury Department and Small Business Administration for a clarification to explicitly note the eligibility of electric co-ops to participate in the Paycheck Protection Program, if they meet the other eligibility requirements. The agencies issued the clarification in response to a sustained effort by electric co-ops to address co-op concerns.
We thank Sens. John Hoeven (R-ND) and Tina Smith (D-MN) and Reps. Ron Kind (D-WI) and Jackie Walorski (R-IN) for leading the congressional effort.
NRECA is continuing its efforts to shape COVID-19 relief legislation that will help electric co-ops ensure electric system reliability in an increasingly difficult economic environment.
Electric co-op advocates can ensure that their congressional delegations hear a strong message to include co-op priorities in the next COVID-19 relief package, which will help to protect the 42 million Americans who rely on electric co-ops to power their homes and businesses.
NRECA is pressing Congress to ensure that the next relief package includes the Flexible Financing for Rural America Act (S. 4152, H.R. 7483), introduced by Sens. Hoeven, Smith, John Boozman (R-AR) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Reps. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) and Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ).
Electric co-ops are growing cosponsors for the legislation currently backed by more than 100 lawmakers: 82 in the House and 20 in the Senate.
The bicameral, bipartisan bill would provide flexibility for RUS borrowers through repricing of loans at lower rates. The measure would permit RUS electric and telecommunications borrowers to request an interest rate adjustment with no penalty. The average co-op with typical RUS debt could save $2 million per year in interest payments by refinancing loans at current low interest rates – money electric co-ops could use to help communities recovering from the pandemic.
In addition, NRECA and electric co-ops are urging Congress to provide federal support for those who are not able to pay their bills and to address operational shortfalls for electric co-ops caused by loss of electric load and bill nonpayment.
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