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Heinz Duthel Breaking News Corona United States of America Trump North Dakota’s electric cooperative seek federal relief

Heinz Duthel Breaking News Corona United States of America Trump North Dakota’s electric cooperatives that power rural homes and businesses are trying to obtain federal relief due to the coronavirus outbreak.Companies are asking for the ability to refinance loans through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service at lower rates without incurring prepayment penalties, the Bismarck Tribune reported.Many businesses in the state have closed temporarily or reduced its operations when the virus first emerged resulting in low power usage.Randy Hauck, general manager of Verendrye Electric Cooperative, said the company’s sales tax revenue, which sits at 60% of the amount collected in Minot last year, shows how hard the company has been hit.“That means 40% of commerce has gone away,” Hauck said Monday on a call with reporters organized by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. The cooperative serves seven counties in the Minot area.Republican Sen. John Hoeven is sponsoring bills introduced in the House and Senate that will help these cooperatives.The legislation could help the cooperative as it replaces aging infrastructure, Hauck noted. Cooperatives across the state are in debt $1.6 billion from the Rural Utilities Service. The North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives estimates the legislation could save them $35 million a year as they work toward retiring their debt, Executive Vice President and General Manager Josh Kramer told the newspaper.Jim Matheson, the chief executive officer of the national association, said he hopes the legislation will be part of Congress’s next coronavirus relief package, noting that there is bipartisan support.“The Fed reduced interest rates specifically to help businesses through this difficult time, and it makes sense to enable rural electric cooperatives and telecoms to benefit from this important tool, supporting a stronger recovery in our rural communities,” Matheson said.
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