Conference call addresses local coronavirus concerns, economic impact
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (April 21, 2020) – On a Tuesday morning conference call, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) briefed leaders of Kentucky’s electric cooperatives on the progress of coronavirus relief measures, and listened to co-op concerns about the impacts of the pandemic on local communities.
Kentucky Electric Cooperatives, the statewide association of the local member-owned co-ops, projects at least a $90 million loss of co-op revenues statewide through May as a result of COVID-19. While much of that loss in revenue is due to a downturn in electricity sales due to state mandated restrictions on economic activity, co-ops are also shouldering millions of dollars in bill non-payment. Co-ops are providing information about available resources and working with consumer-members to help them avoid large balances in the future.
“Even in these uncertain times, Kentucky’s electric cooperatives continue providing unfailing service across our Commonwealth. I’m heartened to have them lighting the way,” said Senator McConnell. “As Senate Majority Leader, I’m constantly working to put Kentucky’s priorities at the center of the national discussion. I’m grateful for the information the co-ops shared with me, and I enjoyed the opportunity to update them on the Senate’s efforts to deliver immediate relief during the coronavirus crisis.”
To help prevent the need for rate increases to offset revenue losses, co-ops are seeking federal legislation that would direct the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service program to take advantage of historically low interest rates and allow co-ops to reprice or refinance RUS debt without penalties for borrowers and to increase the amount of lending available under the RUS Guaranteed Underwriter Program. Cooperatives are also seeking to be included in future coronavirus relief including increased funding for rural broadband service.
“We greatly appreciate Senator McConnell hearing our concerns and demonstrating his awareness of how this pandemic is affecting rural Kentucky,” said Chris Perry, president and CEO of Kentucky Electric Cooperatives. “We would have certainly understood if this call had been postponed as he negotiates coronavirus relief legislation, but Sen. McConnell always has time for us, and we believe that by understanding our concerns, the legislation he negotiates in Washington reflects real needs here back home.”
Kentucky’s electric cooperatives continue to provide service and perform necessary maintenance and repairs while following CDC guidelines such as social distancing. Cooperatives have adjusted staff schedules to protect the safety of the employees and maintain quality service levels.
About Kentucky Electric Cooperatives:
Kentucky’s electric cooperatives serve more than 1.5 million people – about 35% of the state’s population – in 117 of Kentucky’s 120 counties. The statewide association provides representation before the General Assembly, Congress, and regulatory bodies: safety training; coordination of management training; and public relations support including publication of Kentucky Living magazine. Kentucky Electric Cooperatives is governed by a board consisting of one manager and one director from each of its 26 member systems and is headquartered in Louisville.