Tester Doubles Down on Fight to Keep Lights on in Rural America by Supporting Rural Co-ops

Urges Trump Administration to include rural electric co-ops in coronavirus response programs

U.S. Senator Jon Tester is doubling down on his fight to make sure Montana’s rural electric co-ops can keep the lights on in rural communities during the COVID-19 crisis.

Tester joined a bipartisan group of his colleagues in a letter reiterating Tester’s call to the U.S. Small Business Administration and the Department of Treasury to ensure that rural electric co-ops are eligible for the critical coronavirus relief programs Tester voted for as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

“We ask that as you work to implement the Payroll Protection Program, you ensure that rural electric cooperatives, as private corporate business concerns operating on a cooperative basis, will be considered eligible recipients under the program,” Tester and his colleagues wrote. “Electric cooperatives are privately-owned businesses, formed by and for the benefit of the communities that they serve, primarily in rural America.”

Tester fought to ensure the CARES Act included the Paycheck Protection Program—a critical lifeline intended to help small businesses stay afloat—and he recently wrote a separate letter to SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza urging her to include Montana’s electric co-ops in the coronavirus response.

Tester and his colleagues continued: “As you develop the guidance, regulations, and application forms for implementing the Paycheck Protection Program and other provisions of the CARES Act, we request you ensure America’s electric cooperatives are deemed as qualifying business concerns and are able to fully participate and benefit as small businesses serving their local communities.”

Tester has been working tirelessly to ensure that Montana is prepared to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. After 72 hours negotiating substantial, bipartisan improvements to COVID-19 stimulus legislation that had previously fallen far short, Tester voted to deliver critical, urgent relief to Montana workers, families, small businesses, hospitals and others hardest hit by the outbreak. This funding includes $1.25 billion for the state of Montana.

Last fall Tester fought to reverse a provision of the hastily-written 2017 Republican tax bill that penalized electric co-ops for applying for federal grants, putting their tax-exempt status at risk and jeopardizing jobs and affordable power for thousands of Montanans.

Read Tester’s full letter HERE.

Visit tester.senate.gov/coronavirusresources for a list of resources for Montanans during the COVID-19 outbreak.