Montana’s Rural Electric Co-ops Now Eligible for Paycheck Protection Program, After Tester Efforts

Senator led charge to ensure critical utilities could access coronavirus relief program

Montana’s rural electric co-ops are now eligible for the Paycheck Protection Program, after a push by U.S. Senator Jon Tester.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) today announced the change, after Tester led his colleagues in urging the SBA and the U.S. 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.

“Electric co-operatives are critical to folks in rural communities who depend on them to keep the lights on in their homes and their businesses,” Tester said. “I’m glad the Administration heard us, and that these crucial utility providers will be able to continue serving the communities that depend on them most.”

Tester has fought to improve the CARES Act’s Paycheck Protection Program—a critical lifeline intended to help small businesses stay afloat.

Tester has been working tirelessly to ensure that Montana is prepared to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. After 72 hours of 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.

Visit for a list of resources for Montanans during the COVID-19 outbreak.