Bills and Rates

It is vital that member utilities press lawmakers on direct aid, APPA says

The American Public Power Association is urging its member utilities to reach out to their congressional delegation in support of legislation that would provide direct COVID-19 pandemic-related aid for public power utilities.

APPA is encouraging its member utilities to take steps to educate lawmakers on the issue and to ask the lawmakers to join in signing a letter in support of public power being circulated by House Energy and Commerce Committee member Doris Matsui, D-Calif.

The due date for signing onto the letter has been extended to Friday, July 10. A copy of the letter is available here. (The original deadline was June 26).

In her letter, Matsui noted that in previous coronavirus relief bills, the public power sector “has been uniquely left out of certain programs that could provide financial assistance during this hardship, including the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the employer payroll tax credit for qualified family leave wages.”

As an essential service, public power utilities “continue to provide electricity to customers’ homes, enabling many of us to continue working from home or enabling children to proceed with at-home learning opportunities,” Matsui said in the letter. “Moreover, most public power utilities instituted voluntary moratoriums on shutoffs for nonpayment soon after the pandemic struck, recognizing that no one should be without power during this period of unique hardship.”

Past legislation has provided aid that will help public power at the margins, such as Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funding increases to help customers pay their bills, Coronavirus Relief Funds to state and local governments, and assistance in paying unemployment benefits for laid off workers.

But APPA now estimates that public power utilities will lose up to $5 billion in revenue due to pandemic-related declines in load and customer arrearages.