Sinema’s bipartisan bill boosts jobs and expands electric and broadband services serving rural Arizona farms, families, and businesses
WASHINGTON – Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema introduced a bipartisan bill with Republican Senator John Hoeven (N.D.) that boosts jobs and expands electricity and broadband across rural Arizona by allowing rural Arizona electric and telecommunications co-ops to adjust loans so they can continue providing power and broadband services during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Allowing rural utility providers to refinance Rural Utilities Service loans ensures rural Arizona communities continue accessing electric and broadband services during the coronavirus pandemic” said Sinema.
“The RUS re-pricing legislation will provide immediate financial relief for Arizona’s rural electric Cooperatives and the communities they serve. The ability to refinance existing debt to lower market rates will free up significant capital and translate to savings for the ratepayer. We applaud Senator Sinema for her leadership, bipartisanship, and her continued support of Arizona’s electric co-ops,” said Dave Lock, CEO, Grand Canyon State Electric Cooperative Association.
Electric co-ops currently hold Rural Utilities Service debt with interest rates significantly higher than today’s rates, and have been hard hit by the COVID-19 global pandemic due to lower demand and unpaid bills. Sinema’s legislation allows co-ops to adjust their Rural Utilities Service loans and refinance to current market rates without penalty.
The Rural Utilities Service is a U.S. Department of Agriculture program that provide loans to electric co-ops to help them provide electric and broadband services to farms, residences, and businesses in rural areas. Outstanding Rural Utilities Service loans currently amount to approximately $40 billion nationwide and cannot be repaid early or otherwise modified without penalty.
Arizona electric co-ops bring electricity and broadband services to more than 400,000 customers in Mohave, Pima, Pinal, Graham, Greenlee, Navajo, Apache, and Cochise counties, playing a vital economic development in rural Arizona.
In support of Arizona rural electric co-ops, Sinema and a bipartisan group of Senators wrote to the U.S. Department of Treasury and Small Business Administration to ensure rural electric co-ops’ eligibility for Paycheck Protection Program loans.
Sinema has also added a resources page to her website, www.sinema.senate.gov/corona, for Arizonans looking for the latest information on coronavirus.