SECO Energy’s primary mission is to maintain the health of its workforce to ensure the reliability of its electric system as it plays a critical role in members’ health and wellbeing. During the COVID-19 situation, SECO is offering flexibility to residential members that includes waived late fees and extended payment arrangements. The not-for-profit cooperative understands that businesses need relief as well and the cooperative’s Key Accounts staff is prepared to answer account-specific questions about helping businesses get federal relief.
Congress recently passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act which includes assistance for commercial account members. SECO encourages its commercial members to research the resources available through the CARES Act. These resources include capital to cover the cost of retaining employees, utility payments, payroll assistance, grants, loans (including loan forgiveness) along with free counseling during this difficult time.
The Small Business Debt Relief Program provides immediate relief to small businesses with non-disaster SBA loans, in particular 7(a), 504 and microloans. Under it, SBA will cover all loan payments on these SBA loans including principal, interest and fees for six months. This relief will also be available to new borrowers who take out loans within six months of the president signing the bill into law.
Economic Injury Disaster Loans & Emergency Economic Injury Grants are also available. These grants provide an emergency advance of up to $10,000 to small businesses and private non-profits harmed by COVID-19 within three days of applying for an SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). To access the advance, apply for an EIDL first and then request the advance. The advance does not need to be repaid under any circumstance. It may be used to keep employees on payroll, pay for sick leave, meet increased production costs due to supply chain disruptions, or pay business obligations, including debts, rent and mortgage payments.
Congress has also provided relief and business protection under the CARES Act for government contractors. Agencies will be able to modify terms and conditions of a contract and to reimburse contractors at a billing rate of up to 40 hours per week of any paid leave, including sick leave. The contractors eligible are those whose employees or subcontractors cannot perform work on site and cannot telework due to federal facilities closing because of COVID-19.
The CARES Act also provides a refundable payroll tax credit for 50 percent of wages paid by eligible employers to certain employees during the COVID-19 crisis. The credit is available to employers, including non-profits, whose operations have been fully or partially suspended as a result of a government order limiting commerce, travel or group meetings. The credit is also provided to employers who have experienced a greater than 50 percent reduction in quarterly receipts, measured on a year-over-year basis.
CEO Jim Duncan stated, “During the COVID-19 situation, small businesses are at risk. The CARES Act provides options and resources for commercial account members. Small businesses are the backbone of the economy, and for many are the fulfillment of the American dream. I urge commercial account members to take advantage of the assistance from CARES.”
Commercial members can reach out to their local Small Business Development Center, Women’s Business Center, SCORE chapter or SBA district office. Commercial account members with account specific questions can reach out to one of our Key Accounts staff.