RURAL Act Legislation Lifts Limits for Consumer-Owned Utilities


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On May 30, Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) called for the swift passage of his RURAL Act legislation to expand rural broadband access and keep electric costs affordable in his state.

In a letter to the leaders of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee, Walden said that the RURAL Act would help Oregon electric cooperatives meet power demands for their consumers after natural disasters.

“Electric cooperatives and other consumer-owned utilities play an important role in delivering affordable power to rural communities across Oregon and our nation,” Walden wrote. 

“This legislation would help ensure our consumer-owned utilities can navigate costly natural disasters and utilize funding to continue meeting the growing demands of their members and communities.” 

Under current law, any disaster assistance afforded to electric cooperatives counts as revenue for the cooperatives and other consumer-owned utilities. Accepting this assistance puts rural electric cooperatives at risk of losing their tax-exempt status, which Walden’s bill aims to counter.

“The RURAL Act would ensure this cooperative and others can rebuild after a disaster without chaining their consumers to increased tax costs into the future,” said Walden.

Rural electric cooperatives are applauding Walden’s efforts while the RURAL Act awaits action in the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees.

June 6, 2019

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