(ARLINGTON, Va.) — The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) today expressed strong appreciation for House passage of the FEMA Disaster Assistance Reform Act of 2015 (H.R. 1471). In addition to reauthorizing the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the bill would expedite the process for electric co-ops and other applicants of obtaining reimbursement for disaster relief efforts by raising the Public Assistance small projects threshold from $35,000 to $1 million.
“Electric co-ops rely on reimbursements by FEMA’s Public Assistance Program for funds to restore electric power after severe disasters, such as floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and ice storms,” said NRECA Interim CEO Jeffrey Connor. “Without FEMA reimbursement assistance, many electric cooperative consumers living in disaster-stricken areas could face higher electricity rates and struggle with recovery, causing a slower return to pre-disaster conditions.”
NRECA strongly supports a provision in the bill that would create a three-year limit for FEMA to reclaim funds, a process known as “deobligation.” FEMA has been able to demand return of previously granted funds due to additional internal review of the original funding decision. In many cases, there is no transparency into these decisions. For electric co-ops—as not-for-profits without reserve funds—this can cause serious hardship with little to no recourse.
NRECA urges swift consideration of the bill by the Senate.
The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association is the national service organization that represents the nation’s more than 900 private, not-for-profit, consumer-owned electric cooperatives, which provide service to 42 million people in 47 states.