A bill introduced last week in the U.S. House of Representatives would provide some financial relief to utilities stressed by extreme weather.

According to information from U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford (R-AR-1), H.R. 1291, the Reinforcing Utility Restoration After Losses (RURAL) Act would allow the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to establish a bridge loan program for rural utility companies experiencing losses in the wake of federally-declared emergencies.

“Rural areas already experience unique daily challenges and fewer resources,” said Crawford in a press release. “With the recent extreme temperatures and increase in power outages due to unprecedented demand, we witnessed the devastation that occurs when communities cannot access critical utility services.”

Citing the need to assist utility providers as they work to maintain continuity for their customers, Crawford said the RURAL Act would ensure rural Americans continue to receive vital resources by bolstering rural service providers during federal emergencies. Companies would have access to a line of credit for low-interest loans to cover qualified losses, with partial loan forgiveness available in certain circumstances.

Crawford is the bill’s original sponsor. U.S. Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK-4) is a co-sponsor.

The text of H.R. 1291 may be viewed at www.congress.gov.

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