Congress has approved a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill that could help struggling electric cooperative consumer-members pay their electric bills.

The bill provides emergency funding for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program which will help pay for home heating and cooling for low-income households, including elderly and disabled people and families with young children.

There is also additional funding for emergency rental assistance, which helps people pay their rent and utility bills, including both past due and future payments. Funds will be available through September 2027.

Homeowners hit hard by the pandemic will be eligible for assistance to help them pay their mortgage, utility and internet bills. The money will be dispersed by states and local governments through September 2025.

There is also money allocated for schools in need of Internet services and equipment for home learning, Co-ops battered by storms and disasters, and businesses still struggling to recoup from the pandemic shutdowns.

Congress also expanded eligibility for loans under the Paycheck Protection Program to most nonprofits, affirming guidance from the Treasury Department and the Small Business Administration on electric co-op eligibility. The program is designed to help small businesses keep their workers employed during the pandemic. They can also use the money to pay their utility bills.

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