Loading...

Spanberger Urges House to Give Rural Electricity Providers Greater Peace of Mind

September 2, 2020 by Dan McCue
Representative Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., at the Third Way Opportunity 2020 meeting in Charleston, S.C. (via Third Way Twitter)

WASHINGTON – Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., wants to reduce the barriers currently preventing many Rural Utility Service borrowers from refinancing their debt to take advantage of lower market rates.

Unlike most private lenders, the Rural Utility Service, a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, does not permit borrowers to refinance their debt for the purpose of taking advantage of lower interest rates.

There are few circumstances in which refinancing is allowed, and even then, the penalties imposed on borrowers are costly and significant.

The Flexible Financing for Rural America Act, which is led by Reps, Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., and Tom O’Halleran, D-Ariz., would allow RUS borrowers like electric cooperatives and small telecom providers to refinance their RUS debt at current market rates, giving them more flexibility when it comes to cash flow.

This flexibility can make all the difference, as small rural service providers are struggling to continue providing essential utilities to rural Americans in worsening economic conditions.

Spanberger threw her support behind the bill because all three electric cooperatives operating in Virginia’s 7th congressional district – Rappahannock Electric Cooperative, Southside Electric Cooperative, and Central Virginia Electric Cooperative – are RUS borrowers.

Over the past decade, the cooperatives have received over $240 million in such loans.

“While pundits constantly pivot to follow the fluctuations of the stock market, Central Virginians are still facing the hard facts of economic uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Spanberger said.

“Some of the local companies that have been hit hardest by the worsening economic crisis are rural utility service providers [whose] reliable power and affordable internet access are more essential than ever,” she said.

“During this challenging period, we should be reducing the number of hoops people have to jump through to keep their businesses running and maintain service for their customers,” she added.

In addition to expanding the opportunities that rural utility services have to refinance their debt, this bipartisan legislation would also prohibit RUS from imposing any penalties or fees on borrowers.

By removing this barrier, the bill ensures that small borrowers are not punished for making the financial decisions that are best for their business and their rural customers

“America’s electric cooperatives face significant financial shortfalls due to the ongoing pandemic,” said Jim Matheson, CEO, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. “This essential legislation will give co-ops the flexibility to manage financial shortfalls and focus on the long-term stability of the communities they serve.”

Gary Wood, president and CEO, Central Virginia Electric Cooperative, said he appreciates Spanberger’s support of the legislation.

“The bill will allow us to reduce interest expense, with the savings passed along to our members,” Wood said. “It also provides financial stability, assuring that COVID-19 related challenges do not impact our commitment to affordable electric service and broadband internet access for all members.”

In The News

Health

Voting

Congress

July 1, 2022
by Tom Ramstack
Trump Advisor Bannon Seeks a Trial Delay on Contempt Charge

WASHINGTON — Former Trump White House advisor Steve Bannon is asking a Washington, D.C., federal judge to delay his trial... Read More

WASHINGTON — Former Trump White House advisor Steve Bannon is asking a Washington, D.C., federal judge to delay his trial for contempt of Congress after recent hearings of the House Select Committee to Investigate the Jan. 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol created an "unprecedented level... Read More

July 1, 2022
by Dan McCue
House Majority Leader Unveils Updated Dome Directory App

WASHINGTON — House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., has long been an advocate for using technology to help Congress work... Read More

WASHINGTON — House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., has long been an advocate for using technology to help Congress work better and with more transparency for its members’ constituents. In 2015, for instance, it was Hoyer, with help from his staff, who released the Dome Watch... Read More

June 30, 2022
by Tom Ramstack
Environmentalists Tell Congress Recycling Could Create a Market Opportunity

WASHINGTON — A congressional panel tried to move forward Thursday with a more aggressive effort to recycle the nation’s wastes... Read More

WASHINGTON — A congressional panel tried to move forward Thursday with a more aggressive effort to recycle the nation’s wastes on the same day the Supreme Court dealt the Biden administration’s environmental agenda a severe setback. A House Energy and Commerce subcommittee promoted legislation to eliminate... Read More

June 29, 2022
by Alexa Hornbeck
Medicare Advantage Program Slammed for High Costs and Lack of Efficiency

WASHINGTON —A series of reports have revealed continued issues with Medicare Advantage Plans, a private-plan alternative to traditional Medicare, and... Read More

WASHINGTON —A series of reports have revealed continued issues with Medicare Advantage Plans, a private-plan alternative to traditional Medicare, and now members from the House Committee on Energy and Commerce are focused on how to establish better protections for America’s seniors.  “One of the promises of... Read More

June 29, 2022
by Alexa Hornbeck
Congress Drops Waiver to Allow Free School Meals for All Students

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden signed the Keep Kids Fed Act into law on June 25 to support school meal... Read More

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden signed the Keep Kids Fed Act into law on June 25 to support school meal programs ahead of the expiration of pandemic-era waivers, but to expedite the bill’s passage before the expiration on June 30, Congress tossed a key provision to... Read More

June 28, 2022
by Tom Ramstack
Former White House Staffer Says Trump Encouraged Jan. 6 Riot

WASHINGTON — The most condemning testimony yet among six House hearings into the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S.... Read More

WASHINGTON — The most condemning testimony yet among six House hearings into the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol came from a Trump White House staff member Tuesday. Cassidy Hutchinson, a former assistant to the president’s chief of staff, testified that President Donald Trump... Read More

News From The Well