DENTON — Last week Congress passed, and the president signed into law, the 2020 spending package that contained the RURAL Act and other key provisions for electric cooperatives and their consumer-members. The RURAL Act protects more than 900 electric cooperatives throughout the nation from the risk of losing their tax-exempt status when they accept government grants for disaster relief, broadband service and other programs that benefit co-op members.
Choptank Electric Cooperative’s Chairman of the Board and Talbot County Director, Jeff Rathell, said, “Passage of the RURAL Act is due, in large part, to the tireless commitment of our co-op advocates. This highlights what is possible when our members take action and work together toward practical solutions. Ultimately, this effort keeps your electricity affordable and reliable.”
“While we look to bring high-speed internet to our rural communities here on the Eastern Shore and continue to prepare for extreme weather events, such as hurricanes, we need to make sure Choptank Electric is positioned to tap into federal, state, and local funding opportunities without risking our tax-exempt status,” Rathell explained. “We would like to thank Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and Congressman Andy Harris for listening to our concerns and co-sponsoring the RURAL Act. Without their leadership and commitment to our cooperative members, this bill would not have made it across the finish line.”
The RURAL Act was the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s (NRECA) top legislative priority for the year because of the profound threat to the business model of not-for-profit co-ops. Tens of thousands of co-op leaders, employees and members across the country rallied for passage of the bill.