Announcement of Application Deadlines and Requirements for Section 313A Guarantees for Bonds and Notes Issued for Utility Infrastructure Loans for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020, 29680-29683 [2020-10507]

Download as PDF 29680 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 96 / Monday, May 18, 2020 / Notices The purpose of the meeting is to: 1. Review and discuss Title II projects; and 2. Allow project proponents to present their projects and answer questions from the committee. The meeting is open to the public. The agenda will include time for people to make oral statements of three minutes or less. Individuals wishing to make an oral statement should request in writing by May 29, 2020, to be scheduled on the agenda. Anyone who would like to bring related matters to the attention of the committee may file written statements with the committee staff before or after the meeting. Written comments and requests for time to make oral comments must be sent to Julie Fosbender, RAC Coordinator, Monongahela National Forest Headquarters Building 200 Sycamore Street, Elkins, West Virginia 26241; by email to julie.fosbender@usda.gov; or via facsimile to 304–637–0582. Meeting Accommodations: If you are a person requiring reasonable accommodation, please make requests in advance for sign language interpreting, assistive listening devices, or other reasonable accommodation. For access to the facility or proceedings, please contact the person listed in the section titled FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. All reasonable accommodation requests are managed on a case by case basis. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Dated: May 12, 2020. Cikena Reid, Committee Management Officer. [FR Doc. 2020–10508 Filed 5–15–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3411–15–P DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Rural Utilities Service Announcement of Application Deadlines and Requirements for Section 313A Guarantees for Bonds and Notes Issued for Utility Infrastructure Loans for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 Rural Utilities Service, USDA. Notice of Solicitation of Applications (NOSA). AGENCY: ACTION: The Rural Utilities Service (RUS), an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), announces the application window and requirements and $750 million in loan funding that is available for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 under the Guarantees for Bonds and Notes Issued for utility infrastructure loans (the 313A Program) jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:03 May 15, 2020 Jkt 250001 authorized under the Rural Electrification Act of 1936, as amended (the RE Act), and related terms. The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (the 2018 Farm Bill), enacted on December 20, 2018, amended Section 313A of the RE Act. Applications under this NOSA will be considered under the new statutory provisions. Those provisions supersede any prior inconsistent policy, regulation or guidance. The 2018 Farm Bill instructs RUS to continue to carry out this program under a Notice until new regulations are implemented. DATES: Complete applications must be received or post marked by RUS no later than 5:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) July 17, 2020. ADDRESSES: Applicants are required to submit one original and two copies of their loan application to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Rural Utilities Service, Electric Program, ATTN: Amy McWilliams, Program Advisor, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, STOP 1560, Room 5165–S, Washington, DC 20250–1560. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For further information contact Amy McWilliams, Program Advisor, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, STOP 1560, Room 5165–S, Washington, DC 20250– 1560. Telephone: (202) 205–8663; fax: (844) 749–0736; or email: amy.mcwilliams@usda.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Under the 313A Program, in accordance with the 2018 Farm Bill, the Federal Financing Bank (FFB) will make loans to the selected applicant(s) and RUS will guarantee the applicant(s)’s repayment of the loans to FFB. The 2018 Farm Bill amended the RE Act to allow selected applicants to use the proceeds of loan funds made available under this NOSA for the 313A Program to make utility infrastructure loans (which includes broadband loans) or to refinance, subject to certain limitations, bonds or notes issued for such purposes to an applicant that has at any time received, or is eligible to receive, a loan under the RE Act. In addition, the 2018 Farm Bill amendments to the RE Act removed the prohibition against the use of proceeds of loan funds made available under the 313A Program for projects for the generation of electricity. Congressional Review Act Pursuant to the Congressional Review Act (5 U.S.C. 801 et seq.), the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Office of Management and Budget designated this action as a major rule, as defined by 5 U.S.C. 804(2), because it will result in an annual effect on the PO 00000 Frm 00002 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 economy of $100,000,000 or more. Accordingly, there will be a mandatory 60-day delay in effectiveness to award loan funds. However, applications will be accepted for 60 days beginning May 18, 2020 as stated in the DATES section of this NOSA. Overview Federal Agency: Rural Utilities Service, USDA. Funding Opportunity Title: Guarantees for Bonds and Notes Issued for Electrification or Telephone Purposes for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020. Announcement Type: Guarantees for Bonds and Notes. Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 10.850. Due Date for Applications: Completed applications must be received or post marked by RUS no later than 5:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) July 17, 2020. Items in Supplementary Information I. Funding Opportunity Description II. Award Information III. Eligibility Information IV. Fiscal Year 2020 Application and Submission Information V. Application Review Information VI. Issuance of Guarantee VII. Guarantee Agreement VIII. Reporting Requirements IX. Award Administration Information X. National Environmental Policy Act Certification XI. Other Information and Requirements XII. Agency Contacts: Website, Phone, Fax, Email, Contact Name XIII. Non-Discrimination Statement: USDA Non-Discrimination Statement, How To File a Complaint, Persons With Disabilities I. Funding Opportunity Description A. Purpose and Objectives of the 313A Program The purpose of the 313A Program is to make guaranteed loans to selected applicants (each referred to as ‘‘Guaranteed Lender’’ in this NOSA and in the Program Regulations) that are to be used (i) to make utility infrastructure loans or (ii) to refinance bonds or notes issued for such purposes to a borrower that has at any time received, or is eligible to receive, a loan under the RE Act. Each applicant must provide a statement on how it proposes to use the proceeds of the guaranteed bonds, and the financial benefit it anticipates deriving from participating in the program pursuant to 7 CFR 1720.6(a)(3). Objectives may include, but are not limited to the annual savings to be realized by the ultimate borrower(s) as a result of the applicant’s use of lower cost loan funds provided by FFB and guaranteed by RUS. E:\FR\FM\18MYN1.SGM 18MYN1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 96 / Monday, May 18, 2020 / Notices The 2018 Farm Bill modified the 313A Program by amending the RE Act to allow proceeds of guaranteed bonds awarded under this NOSA to be used to make broadband loans, or to refinance broadband loans, made to a borrower that has received, or is eligible to receive, a broadband loan under Title VI of the RE Act. As a result, to the extent that the proceeds of guaranteed bonds are to be used to fund or refinance broadband loans that were not made by RUS (‘‘Non Broadband Loans’’), such proceeds may only be used for Non Broadband Loans that would meet the amended eligibility requirements of Title VI pursuant to the 2018 Farm Bill. The 2018 Farm Bill has also modified the 313A Program to allow the proceeds of guaranteed loans made under this NOSA to be used by the Guaranteed Lender to fund projects for the generation of electricity. B. Statutory Authority The 313A Program is authorized by Section 313A of the Rural Electrification Act of 1936, as amended (7 U.S.C. 940c–1) (the RE Act) and is implemented by regulations located at 7 CFR part 1720, in accordance with the 2018 Farm Bill. The Administrator of RUS (the Administrator) has been delegated responsibility for administering the 313A Program. C. Definition of Terms The definitions applicable to this NOSA are published at 7 CFR 1720.3. D. Application Awards RUS will review and evaluate applications received in response to this NOSA based on the regulations at 7 CFR 1720.7, and as provided in this NOSA. jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with NOTICES II. Award Information Type of Awards: Guaranteed Loans. Fiscal Year Funds: FY 2020. Available Funds: $750 million. Should additional funding become available this fiscal year, the RUS reserves the right to increase the total funds available under this notice. Award Amounts: RUS anticipates making multiple guarantees under this NOSA. The number, amount and terms of awards under this NOSA will depend in part on the number of eligible applications and the amount of funds requested. In determining whether or not to make an award, RUS will take overall program policy objectives into account. Due Date for Applications: See SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION above. Award Date: Awards will be made on or before September 30, 2020, but no earlier than July 17, 2020. VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:03 May 15, 2020 Jkt 250001 Schedule of Loan Repayment: The amortization method for the repayment of the guaranteed loan shall be repaid by the Guaranteed Lender: (i) In periodic installments of principal and interest, (ii) in periodic installments of interest and, at the end of the term of the bond or note, as applicable, by the repayment of the outstanding principal, or (iii) through a combination of the methods described in (i) and (ii) above. The amortization method will be agreed to by RUS and the Guaranteed Lender. III. Eligibility Information A. Eligible Applicants 1. To be eligible to participate in the 313A Program, a Guaranteed Lender must be: a. A bank or other lending institution organized as a private, not-for-profit cooperative association, or otherwise organized on a non-profit basis; b. Able to demonstrate to the Administrator that it possesses the appropriate expertise, experience, and qualifications to make loans for utility infrastructure purposes (to the extent that the applicant intends to use the guaranteed loan funds for such purpose); and c. Able to demonstrate to the Administrator that it has bonds or notes eligible for refinancing under the 313A Program (to the extent that the applicant intends to use the guaranteed loan funds for such purpose). 2. To be eligible to receive a guarantee, a Guaranteed Lender’s bond must meet the following criteria: a. The Guaranteed Lender must furnish the Administrator with a certified list of the principal balances of eligible loans outstanding and certify that such aggregate balance is at least equal to the sum of the proposed principal amount of guaranteed bonds to be issued, including any previously issued guaranteed bonds outstanding; b. The guaranteed bonds to be issued by the Guaranteed Lender would receive an underlying investment grade rating from a Rating Agency, without regard to the guarantee; and 3. A lending institution’s status as an eligible applicant does not assure that the Administrator will issue the guarantee sought in the amount or under the terms requested, or otherwise preclude the Administrator from declining to issue a guarantee. B. Other Eligibility Requirements Applications will only be accepted from lenders that serve rural areas defined in 7 CFR 1710.2(a) as (i) any area of the United States, its territories and insular possessions (including any PO 00000 Frm 00003 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 29681 area within the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau) other than a city, town, or unincorporated area that has a population of greater than 20,000 inhabitants; and (ii) any area within a service area of a borrower for which a borrower has an outstanding loan as of June 18, 2008, made under titles I through V of the Rural Electrification Act of 1936, as amended (7 U.S.C. 901– 950cc–2). For initial loans to a borrower made after June 18, 2008, the ‘‘rural’’ character of an area is determined at the time of the initial loan to furnish or improve service in the area. IV. Fiscal Year 2020 Application and Submission Information A. Applications All applications must be prepared and submitted in accordance with this NOSA and 7 CFR part 1720 (available online at http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/ text-idx?SID=9295e45c9a0f6a857 d800fbec5dde2fb&mc=true&node =pt7.11.1720&rgn=div5). B. Content and Form of Submission In addition to the required application specified in 7 CFR 1720.6, all applicants must submit the following additional required documents and materials: 1. Form AD–1047, Certification Regarding Debarment, Suspension, and Other Responsibility Matters Primary Covered Transactions This form contains certain certifications relating to debarment and suspension, convictions, criminal charges, and the termination of public transactions (See 2 CFR part 417, and 7 CFR 1710.123.) This form is available at https://www.ocio.usda.gov/document/ ad-1047. 2. Restrictions on Lobbying Applicants must comply with the requirements relating to restrictions on lobbying activities. (See 2 CFR part 418, and 7 CFR 1710.125.) This form is available at https://www.gsa.gov/formslibrary/disclosure-lobbying-activities; 3. Uniform Relocation Act Assurance Statement Applicants must comply with 49 CFR part 24, which implements the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970, as amended. (See 7 CFR 1710.124.) This form is available at http:// www.rd.usda.gov/publications/ regulations-guidelines/electric-sampledocuments; E:\FR\FM\18MYN1.SGM 18MYN1 29682 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 96 / Monday, May 18, 2020 / Notices 4. Federal Debt Delinquency Requirements This report indicates whether the applicants are delinquent on any Federal debt (See 7 CFR 1710.126 and 7 CFR 1710.501(a)(13)). This form (the Federal Debt Delinquency Certification) is available at http://www.rd.usda.gov/ publications/regulations-guidelines/ electric-sample-documents; 5. RUS Form 266, Compliance Assurance Applicants must submit a nondiscrimination assurance commitment to comply with certain regulations on non-discrimination in program services and benefits and on equal employment opportunity as set forth in 7 CFR parts 15 and 15b and 45 CFR part 90. This form is available at: https:// www.rd.usda.gov/files/UP_ET_form_ 266.pdf; 6. Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws See 7 CFR 1710.501(a)(14). These are required if either document has been amended since the last loan application was submitted to RUS, or if this is the applicant’s first application for a loan under the RE Act; and 2. Decisions by the Administrator The Administrator may limit the number of guarantees made to a maximum of five per year, to ensure a sufficient examination is conducted of applicant requests. RUS will notify the applicant in writing of the Administrator’s approval or denial of an application. Approvals for guarantees will be conditioned upon compliance with 7 CFR 1720.4 (in accordance with the 2018 Farm Bill) and 7 CFR 1720.6. The Administrator reserves the discretion to approve an application for an amount less than that requested. B. Independent Assessment 7. Form AD–3030, Representations Regarding Felony Conviction and Tax Delinquent Status for Corporate Applications Corporate applicants are required to complete and submit Form AD–3030 with their applications. This form is available at https://www.ocio.usda.gov/ document/ad3030. Before a guarantee decision is made by the Administrator, the Administrator shall request that FFB review the rating agency determination required by 7 CFR 1720.5(b)(2) as to whether the bond or note to be issued would receive an investment grade rating without regard to the guarantee. C. Supplemental Documents for Submission The requirements under this section must be met by the applicant prior to the endorsement of a guarantee by the Administrator (See 7 CFR 1720.8.) 1. Cash Flow Projections and Assumptions Each applicant must include five-year pro-forma cash flow projections or business plans and clearly state the assumptions that underlie the projections, demonstrating that there is reasonable assurance that the applicant will be able to repay the guaranteed loan in accordance with its terms (See 7 CFR 1720.6(a)(4)). jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with NOTICES whether it is eligible under 7 CFR 1720.5, the information required under 7 CFR 1720.6 is complete, and the proposed guaranteed bond complies with applicable statutes and regulations. The Administrator can at any time reject an application that fails to meet these requirements. b. Applications will be subject to a substantive review, on a competitive basis, by the Administrator based upon the evaluation factors listed in 7 CFR 1720.7(b). VI. Issuance of the Guarantee VII. Guarantee Agreement 2. Pending Litigation Statement A statement from the applicant’s counsel listing any pending litigation, including levels of related insurance coverage and the potential effect on the applicant, must be submitted to RUS. Each Guaranteed Lender will be required to enter into a Guarantee Agreement with RUS that contains the provisions described in 7 CFR 1720.8 (Issuance of the Guarantee), 7 CFR 1720.9 (Guarantee Agreement), and 7 CFR 1720.12 (Reporting Requirements). The Guarantee Agreement will also obligate the Guaranteed Lender to pay, on an annual basis, a guarantee fee equal to 30 basis points (0.30 percent) of the outstanding principal amount of the guaranteed loan (See 7 CFR 1720.10). V. Application Review Information VIII. Reporting Requirements A. Application Evaluation Guaranteed Lenders are required to comply with the financial reporting requirements and Pledged Collateral review and certification requirements set forth in 7 CFR 1720.12. 1. Administrator Review a. Each application will be reviewed by the Administrator to determine VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:03 May 15, 2020 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Frm 00004 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 IX. Award Administration Information Award Notices RUS will send a commitment letter to an applicant once the loan is approved. Applicants must accept and commit to all terms and conditions of the loan which are requested by RUS and FFB as follows: 1. Compliance Conditions In addition to the standard conditions placed on the 313A Program or conditions requested by RUS to ensure loan security and statutory compliance, applicants must comply with the following conditions: a. Each Guaranteed Lender selected under the 313A Program will be required to post collateral for the benefit of RUS in an amount equal to the aggregate amount of loan advances made to the Guaranteed Lender under the 313A Program. b. The pledged collateral (the Pledged Collateral) shall consist of outstanding notes or bonds payable to the Guaranteed Lender (the Eligible Securities) and shall be placed on deposit with a collateral agent for the benefit of RUS. To be deemed Eligible Securities that can be pledged as collateral, the notes or bonds to be pledged (i) cannot be classified as nonperforming, impaired, or restructured under generally accepted accounting principles, (ii) must be free and clear of all liens other than the lien created for the benefit of RUS, (iii) cannot be comprised of more than 30% of bonds or notes from generation and transmission borrowers, (iv) cannot have more than 5% of notes and bonds be from any one particular borrower and (v) cannot be unsecured notes. c. The Guaranteed Lender will be required to place a lien on the Pledged Collateral in favor of RUS (as secured party) at the time that the Pledged Collateral is deposited with the collateral agent. RUS will have the right, in its sole discretion, within 14 business days to reject and require the substitution of any Pledged Collateral that the Guaranteed Lender deposits as collateral with the collateral agent. Prior to receiving any advances under the 313A Program, the Guaranteed Lender will be required to enter into a pledge agreement, satisfactory to RUS, with a banking institution serving as collateral agent. d. The Guaranteed Lender will be required to maintain Pledged Collateral at a level that is sufficient to ensure that in the event of default resources will be available to cover principal, interest, fees and reasonable expenses incurred by RUS as a result of a default or E:\FR\FM\18MYN1.SGM 18MYN1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 96 / Monday, May 18, 2020 / Notices incurred pursuant to RUS’s obligation to make related payments to FFB on all guarantees issued by RUS to FFB for the benefit of the Guaranteed Lender under Section 313A of the RE Act. The Guaranteed Lender will also be required to agree that the Pledged Collateral can be used for such purposes. e. The Guaranteed Lender will be required to agree to not to take any action that would have the effect of reducing the value of the pledged collateral below the level described above. f. Applicants must certify to the RUS, the portion of their loan portfolio that is: (1) Refinanced RUS debt; (2) Debt of borrowers for whom both RUS and the applicants have outstanding loans; and (3) Debt of borrowers for whom both RUS and the applicant have outstanding concurrent loans pursuant to Section 307 of the RE Act, and the amount of Eligible Loans. jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with NOTICES 2. Compliance With Federal Laws Applicants must comply with all applicable Federal laws and regulations. a. This obligation is subject to the provisions contained in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020, Public Law 116–93, Division C, Title VII, Sections 744 and 745, as amended and/or subsequently enacted for USDA agencies and offices, regarding the prohibition against RUS making awards to applicants having corporate felony convictions within the past 24 months or to applicants having corporate federal tax delinquencies. b. An authorized official within your organization must execute, date, and return the loan commitment letter and the Assurance Regarding Felony Conviction or Tax Delinquent Status for Corporate Applicants (Form AD–3031) to RUS within 14 calendar days from the date of the loan commitment letter, or by September 25, 2020, if the loan is approved after September 10, 2020; otherwise, the commitment will be void. This form is available at https:// www.ocio.usda.gov/document/ad3031. c. Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) Filing. The Borrower must provide RUS with evidence that the Borrower has filed the UCC financing statement required by 7 CFR 1720.8(a)(2). Upon filing of the appropriate UCC financing statement, the Guaranteed Lender will provide RUS with a perfection opinion by outside counsel which demonstrates that RUS’s security interest in the pledged collateral under the Pledge Agreement is perfected. d. Additional conditions may be instituted for future obligations. VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:03 May 15, 2020 Jkt 250001 X. National Environmental Policy Act Certification For any proceeds to be used to refinance bonds and notes previously issued by the Guaranteed Lender for RE Act purposes that are not obligated for specific projects, RUS has determined that these financial actions will not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the human environment as defined by the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) and its implementing regulations at 40 CFR parts 1500–1508. However, for any new projects funded through the 313A Program, applicants must consult with RUS and comply with the Agency regulations at 7 CFR part 1970. XI. Other Information and Requirements Applications must contain all the required elements of this NOSA and all standard requirements as required by 7 CFR part 1720. Additional supporting data or documents may be required by RUS depending on the individual application or financial conditions. All applicants must comply with all Federal laws and regulations. XII. Agency Contacts A. Website: https://www.rd.usda.gov/ contact-us/national-office/rus. B. Phone: (202) 720–9540. C. Fax: None. D. Email: jim.elliott@usda.gov. E. Main point of contact: Amy McWilliams, Program Advisor; amy.mcwilliams@usda.gov; TEL: (202) 720 9540 or (202) 205–8663. XIII. USDA Non-Discrimination Statement In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity (including gender expression), sexual orientation, disability, age, marital status, family/ parental status, income derived from a public assistance program, political beliefs, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity, in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA (not all bases apply to all programs). Remedies and complaint filing deadlines vary by program or incident. Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign PO 00000 Frm 00005 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 29683 Language, etc.) should contact the responsible Agency or USDA’s TARGET Center at (202) 720–2600 (voice and TTY) or contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877–8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English. To file a program discrimination complaint, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, AD– 3027. Individuals wishing to file a discrimination complaint may use the form available at http:// www.ocio.usda.gov/policy-directivesrecords-forms/forms-management/ approved-computer-generated-forms and at any USDA office, or may write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632– 9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by: (1) Mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20250–9410; (2) Fax: (202) 690–7442; or (3) Email: program.intake@usda.gov. USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender. Authority: 7 U.S.C. 940c–1. Chad Rupe, Administrator, Rural Utilities Service. [FR Doc. 2020–10507 Filed 5–15–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410–15–P COMMISSION ON CIVIL RIGHTS Notice of Public Meeting of the Ohio Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. ACTION: Announcement of meeting. AGENCY: Notice is hereby given, pursuant to the provisions of the rules and regulations of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (Commission) and the Federal Advisory Committee Act that the Ohio Advisory Committee (Committee) will hold a meeting via teleconference on Thursday, June 4, 2020, at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time for the purpose of discussing civil rights in the state. DATES: The meeting will be held on Thursday, June 4, 2020, at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time Public Call Information: Dial: 800– 367–2403, Confirmation Code: 9519806. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Melissa Wojnaroski, DFO, at SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\18MYN1.SGM 18MYN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 96 (Monday, May 18, 2020)]
[Notices]
[Pages 29680-29683]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-10507]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Rural Utilities Service


Announcement of Application Deadlines and Requirements for 
Section 313A Guarantees for Bonds and Notes Issued for Utility 
Infrastructure Loans for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020

AGENCY: Rural Utilities Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice of Solicitation of Applications (NOSA).

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SUMMARY: The Rural Utilities Service (RUS), an agency of the United 
States Department of Agriculture (USDA), announces the application 
window and requirements and $750 million in loan funding that is 
available for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 under the Guarantees for Bonds and 
Notes Issued for utility infrastructure loans (the 313A Program) 
authorized under the Rural Electrification Act of 1936, as amended (the 
RE Act), and related terms. The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 
(the 2018 Farm Bill), enacted on December 20, 2018, amended Section 
313A of the RE Act. Applications under this NOSA will be considered 
under the new statutory provisions. Those provisions supersede any 
prior inconsistent policy, regulation or guidance. The 2018 Farm Bill 
instructs RUS to continue to carry out this program under a Notice 
until new regulations are implemented.

DATES: Complete applications must be received or post marked by RUS no 
later than 5:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) July 17, 2020.

ADDRESSES: Applicants are required to submit one original and two 
copies of their loan application to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 
Rural Utilities Service, Electric Program, ATTN: Amy McWilliams, 
Program Advisor, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, STOP 1560, Room 5165-S, 
Washington, DC 20250-1560.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For further information contact Amy 
McWilliams, Program Advisor, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, STOP 1560, 
Room 5165-S, Washington, DC 20250-1560. Telephone: (202) 205-8663; fax: 
(844) 749-0736; or email: [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Under the 313A Program, in accordance with 
the 2018 Farm Bill, the Federal Financing Bank (FFB) will make loans to 
the selected applicant(s) and RUS will guarantee the applicant(s)'s 
repayment of the loans to FFB. The 2018 Farm Bill amended the RE Act to 
allow selected applicants to use the proceeds of loan funds made 
available under this NOSA for the 313A Program to make utility 
infrastructure loans (which includes broadband loans) or to refinance, 
subject to certain limitations, bonds or notes issued for such purposes 
to an applicant that has at any time received, or is eligible to 
receive, a loan under the RE Act. In addition, the 2018 Farm Bill 
amendments to the RE Act removed the prohibition against the use of 
proceeds of loan funds made available under the 313A Program for 
projects for the generation of electricity.

Congressional Review Act

    Pursuant to the Congressional Review Act (5 U.S.C. 801 et seq.), 
the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Office of 
Management and Budget designated this action as a major rule, as 
defined by 5 U.S.C. 804(2), because it will result in an annual effect 
on the economy of $100,000,000 or more. Accordingly, there will be a 
mandatory 60-day delay in effectiveness to award loan funds. However, 
applications will be accepted for 60 days beginning May 18, 2020 as 
stated in the DATES section of this NOSA.

Overview

    Federal Agency: Rural Utilities Service, USDA.
    Funding Opportunity Title: Guarantees for Bonds and Notes Issued 
for Electrification or Telephone Purposes for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020.
    Announcement Type: Guarantees for Bonds and Notes.
    Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 10.850.
    Due Date for Applications: Completed applications must be received 
or post marked by RUS no later than 5:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time 
(EDT) July 17, 2020.

Items in Supplementary Information

I. Funding Opportunity Description
II. Award Information
III. Eligibility Information
IV. Fiscal Year 2020 Application and Submission Information
V. Application Review Information
VI. Issuance of Guarantee
VII. Guarantee Agreement
VIII. Reporting Requirements
IX. Award Administration Information
X. National Environmental Policy Act Certification
XI. Other Information and Requirements
XII. Agency Contacts: Website, Phone, Fax, Email, Contact Name
XIII. Non-Discrimination Statement: USDA Non-Discrimination 
Statement, How To File a Complaint, Persons With Disabilities

I. Funding Opportunity Description

A. Purpose and Objectives of the 313A Program

    The purpose of the 313A Program is to make guaranteed loans to 
selected applicants (each referred to as ``Guaranteed Lender'' in this 
NOSA and in the Program Regulations) that are to be used (i) to make 
utility infrastructure loans or (ii) to refinance bonds or notes issued 
for such purposes to a borrower that has at any time received, or is 
eligible to receive, a loan under the RE Act. Each applicant must 
provide a statement on how it proposes to use the proceeds of the 
guaranteed bonds, and the financial benefit it anticipates deriving 
from participating in the program pursuant to 7 CFR 1720.6(a)(3). 
Objectives may include, but are not limited to the annual savings to be 
realized by the ultimate borrower(s) as a result of the applicant's use 
of lower cost loan funds provided by FFB and guaranteed by RUS.

[[Page 29681]]

    The 2018 Farm Bill modified the 313A Program by amending the RE Act 
to allow proceeds of guaranteed bonds awarded under this NOSA to be 
used to make broadband loans, or to refinance broadband loans, made to 
a borrower that has received, or is eligible to receive, a broadband 
loan under Title VI of the RE Act. As a result, to the extent that the 
proceeds of guaranteed bonds are to be used to fund or refinance 
broadband loans that were not made by RUS (``Non Broadband Loans''), 
such proceeds may only be used for Non Broadband Loans that would meet 
the amended eligibility requirements of Title VI pursuant to the 2018 
Farm Bill.
    The 2018 Farm Bill has also modified the 313A Program to allow the 
proceeds of guaranteed loans made under this NOSA to be used by the 
Guaranteed Lender to fund projects for the generation of electricity.

B. Statutory Authority

    The 313A Program is authorized by Section 313A of the Rural 
Electrification Act of 1936, as amended (7 U.S.C. 940c-1) (the RE Act) 
and is implemented by regulations located at 7 CFR part 1720, in 
accordance with the 2018 Farm Bill. The Administrator of RUS (the 
Administrator) has been delegated responsibility for administering the 
313A Program.

C. Definition of Terms

    The definitions applicable to this NOSA are published at 7 CFR 
1720.3.

D. Application Awards

    RUS will review and evaluate applications received in response to 
this NOSA based on the regulations at 7 CFR 1720.7, and as provided in 
this NOSA.

II. Award Information

    Type of Awards: Guaranteed Loans.
    Fiscal Year Funds: FY 2020.
    Available Funds: $750 million. Should additional funding become 
available this fiscal year, the RUS reserves the right to increase the 
total funds available under this notice.
    Award Amounts: RUS anticipates making multiple guarantees under 
this NOSA. The number, amount and terms of awards under this NOSA will 
depend in part on the number of eligible applications and the amount of 
funds requested. In determining whether or not to make an award, RUS 
will take overall program policy objectives into account.
    Due Date for Applications: See SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION above.
    Award Date: Awards will be made on or before September 30, 2020, 
but no earlier than July 17, 2020.
    Schedule of Loan Repayment: The amortization method for the 
repayment of the guaranteed loan shall be repaid by the Guaranteed 
Lender: (i) In periodic installments of principal and interest, (ii) in 
periodic installments of interest and, at the end of the term of the 
bond or note, as applicable, by the repayment of the outstanding 
principal, or (iii) through a combination of the methods described in 
(i) and (ii) above. The amortization method will be agreed to by RUS 
and the Guaranteed Lender.

III. Eligibility Information

A. Eligible Applicants

    1. To be eligible to participate in the 313A Program, a Guaranteed 
Lender must be:
    a. A bank or other lending institution organized as a private, not-
for-profit cooperative association, or otherwise organized on a non-
profit basis;
    b. Able to demonstrate to the Administrator that it possesses the 
appropriate expertise, experience, and qualifications to make loans for 
utility infrastructure purposes (to the extent that the applicant 
intends to use the guaranteed loan funds for such purpose); and
    c. Able to demonstrate to the Administrator that it has bonds or 
notes eligible for refinancing under the 313A Program (to the extent 
that the applicant intends to use the guaranteed loan funds for such 
purpose).
    2. To be eligible to receive a guarantee, a Guaranteed Lender's 
bond must meet the following criteria:
    a. The Guaranteed Lender must furnish the Administrator with a 
certified list of the principal balances of eligible loans outstanding 
and certify that such aggregate balance is at least equal to the sum of 
the proposed principal amount of guaranteed bonds to be issued, 
including any previously issued guaranteed bonds outstanding;
    b. The guaranteed bonds to be issued by the Guaranteed Lender would 
receive an underlying investment grade rating from a Rating Agency, 
without regard to the guarantee; and
    3. A lending institution's status as an eligible applicant does not 
assure that the Administrator will issue the guarantee sought in the 
amount or under the terms requested, or otherwise preclude the 
Administrator from declining to issue a guarantee.

B. Other Eligibility Requirements

    Applications will only be accepted from lenders that serve rural 
areas defined in 7 CFR 1710.2(a) as (i) any area of the United States, 
its territories and insular possessions (including any area within the 
Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, and the Republic 
of Palau) other than a city, town, or unincorporated area that has a 
population of greater than 20,000 inhabitants; and (ii) any area within 
a service area of a borrower for which a borrower has an outstanding 
loan as of June 18, 2008, made under titles I through V of the Rural 
Electrification Act of 1936, as amended (7 U.S.C. 901-950cc-2). For 
initial loans to a borrower made after June 18, 2008, the ``rural'' 
character of an area is determined at the time of the initial loan to 
furnish or improve service in the area.

IV. Fiscal Year 2020 Application and Submission Information

A. Applications

    All applications must be prepared and submitted in accordance with 
this NOSA and 7 CFR part 1720 (available online at http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=9295e45c9a0f6a857d800fbec5dde2fb&mc=true&node=pt7.11.1720&rgn=div5).

B. Content and Form of Submission

    In addition to the required application specified in 7 CFR 1720.6, 
all applicants must submit the following additional required documents 
and materials:
1. Form AD-1047, Certification Regarding Debarment, Suspension, and 
Other Responsibility Matters Primary Covered Transactions
    This form contains certain certifications relating to debarment and 
suspension, convictions, criminal charges, and the termination of 
public transactions (See 2 CFR part 417, and 7 CFR 1710.123.) This form 
is available at https://www.ocio.usda.gov/document/ad-1047.
2. Restrictions on Lobbying
    Applicants must comply with the requirements relating to 
restrictions on lobbying activities. (See 2 CFR part 418, and 7 CFR 
1710.125.) This form is available at https://www.gsa.gov/forms-library/disclosure-lobbying-activities;
3. Uniform Relocation Act Assurance Statement
    Applicants must comply with 49 CFR part 24, which implements the 
Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies 
Act of 1970, as amended. (See 7 CFR 1710.124.) This form is available 
at http://www.rd.usda.gov/publications/regulations-guidelines/electric-sample-documents;

[[Page 29682]]

4. Federal Debt Delinquency Requirements
    This report indicates whether the applicants are delinquent on any 
Federal debt (See 7 CFR 1710.126 and 7 CFR 1710.501(a)(13)). This form 
(the Federal Debt Delinquency Certification) is available at http://www.rd.usda.gov/publications/regulations-guidelines/electric-sample-documents;
5. RUS Form 266, Compliance Assurance
    Applicants must submit a non-discrimination assurance commitment to 
comply with certain regulations on non-discrimination in program 
services and benefits and on equal employment opportunity as set forth 
in 7 CFR parts 15 and 15b and 45 CFR part 90. This form is available 
at: https://www.rd.usda.gov/files/UP_ET_form_266.pdf;
6. Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws
    See 7 CFR 1710.501(a)(14). These are required if either document 
has been amended since the last loan application was submitted to RUS, 
or if this is the applicant's first application for a loan under the RE 
Act; and
7. Form AD-3030, Representations Regarding Felony Conviction and Tax 
Delinquent Status for Corporate Applications
    Corporate applicants are required to complete and submit Form AD-
3030 with their applications. This form is available at https://www.ocio.usda.gov/document/ad3030.

C. Supplemental Documents for Submission

1. Cash Flow Projections and Assumptions
    Each applicant must include five-year pro-forma cash flow 
projections or business plans and clearly state the assumptions that 
underlie the projections, demonstrating that there is reasonable 
assurance that the applicant will be able to repay the guaranteed loan 
in accordance with its terms (See 7 CFR 1720.6(a)(4)).
2. Pending Litigation Statement
    A statement from the applicant's counsel listing any pending 
litigation, including levels of related insurance coverage and the 
potential effect on the applicant, must be submitted to RUS.

V. Application Review Information

A. Application Evaluation

1. Administrator Review
    a. Each application will be reviewed by the Administrator to 
determine whether it is eligible under 7 CFR 1720.5, the information 
required under 7 CFR 1720.6 is complete, and the proposed guaranteed 
bond complies with applicable statutes and regulations. The 
Administrator can at any time reject an application that fails to meet 
these requirements.
    b. Applications will be subject to a substantive review, on a 
competitive basis, by the Administrator based upon the evaluation 
factors listed in 7 CFR 1720.7(b).
2. Decisions by the Administrator
    The Administrator may limit the number of guarantees made to a 
maximum of five per year, to ensure a sufficient examination is 
conducted of applicant requests. RUS will notify the applicant in 
writing of the Administrator's approval or denial of an application. 
Approvals for guarantees will be conditioned upon compliance with 7 CFR 
1720.4 (in accordance with the 2018 Farm Bill) and 7 CFR 1720.6. The 
Administrator reserves the discretion to approve an application for an 
amount less than that requested.

B. Independent Assessment

    Before a guarantee decision is made by the Administrator, the 
Administrator shall request that FFB review the rating agency 
determination required by 7 CFR 1720.5(b)(2) as to whether the bond or 
note to be issued would receive an investment grade rating without 
regard to the guarantee.

VI. Issuance of the Guarantee

    The requirements under this section must be met by the applicant 
prior to the endorsement of a guarantee by the Administrator (See 7 CFR 
1720.8.)

VII. Guarantee Agreement

    Each Guaranteed Lender will be required to enter into a Guarantee 
Agreement with RUS that contains the provisions described in 7 CFR 
1720.8 (Issuance of the Guarantee), 7 CFR 1720.9 (Guarantee Agreement), 
and 7 CFR 1720.12 (Reporting Requirements). The Guarantee Agreement 
will also obligate the Guaranteed Lender to pay, on an annual basis, a 
guarantee fee equal to 30 basis points (0.30 percent) of the 
outstanding principal amount of the guaranteed loan (See 7 CFR 
1720.10).

VIII. Reporting Requirements

    Guaranteed Lenders are required to comply with the financial 
reporting requirements and Pledged Collateral review and certification 
requirements set forth in 7 CFR 1720.12.

IX. Award Administration Information

Award Notices

    RUS will send a commitment letter to an applicant once the loan is 
approved. Applicants must accept and commit to all terms and conditions 
of the loan which are requested by RUS and FFB as follows:
1. Compliance Conditions
    In addition to the standard conditions placed on the 313A Program 
or conditions requested by RUS to ensure loan security and statutory 
compliance, applicants must comply with the following conditions:
    a. Each Guaranteed Lender selected under the 313A Program will be 
required to post collateral for the benefit of RUS in an amount equal 
to the aggregate amount of loan advances made to the Guaranteed Lender 
under the 313A Program.
    b. The pledged collateral (the Pledged Collateral) shall consist of 
outstanding notes or bonds payable to the Guaranteed Lender (the 
Eligible Securities) and shall be placed on deposit with a collateral 
agent for the benefit of RUS. To be deemed Eligible Securities that can 
be pledged as collateral, the notes or bonds to be pledged (i) cannot 
be classified as non-performing, impaired, or restructured under 
generally accepted accounting principles, (ii) must be free and clear 
of all liens other than the lien created for the benefit of RUS, (iii) 
cannot be comprised of more than 30% of bonds or notes from generation 
and transmission borrowers, (iv) cannot have more than 5% of notes and 
bonds be from any one particular borrower and (v) cannot be unsecured 
notes.
    c. The Guaranteed Lender will be required to place a lien on the 
Pledged Collateral in favor of RUS (as secured party) at the time that 
the Pledged Collateral is deposited with the collateral agent. RUS will 
have the right, in its sole discretion, within 14 business days to 
reject and require the substitution of any Pledged Collateral that the 
Guaranteed Lender deposits as collateral with the collateral agent. 
Prior to receiving any advances under the 313A Program, the Guaranteed 
Lender will be required to enter into a pledge agreement, satisfactory 
to RUS, with a banking institution serving as collateral agent.
    d. The Guaranteed Lender will be required to maintain Pledged 
Collateral at a level that is sufficient to ensure that in the event of 
default resources will be available to cover principal, interest, fees 
and reasonable expenses incurred by RUS as a result of a default or

[[Page 29683]]

incurred pursuant to RUS's obligation to make related payments to FFB 
on all guarantees issued by RUS to FFB for the benefit of the 
Guaranteed Lender under Section 313A of the RE Act. The Guaranteed 
Lender will also be required to agree that the Pledged Collateral can 
be used for such purposes.
    e. The Guaranteed Lender will be required to agree to not to take 
any action that would have the effect of reducing the value of the 
pledged collateral below the level described above.
    f. Applicants must certify to the RUS, the portion of their loan 
portfolio that is:
    (1) Refinanced RUS debt;
    (2) Debt of borrowers for whom both RUS and the applicants have 
outstanding loans; and
    (3) Debt of borrowers for whom both RUS and the applicant have 
outstanding concurrent loans pursuant to Section 307 of the RE Act, and 
the amount of Eligible Loans.
2. Compliance With Federal Laws
    Applicants must comply with all applicable Federal laws and 
regulations.
    a. This obligation is subject to the provisions contained in the 
Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020, Public Law 116-93, Division C, 
Title VII, Sections 744 and 745, as amended and/or subsequently enacted 
for USDA agencies and offices, regarding the prohibition against RUS 
making awards to applicants having corporate felony convictions within 
the past 24 months or to applicants having corporate federal tax 
delinquencies.
    b. An authorized official within your organization must execute, 
date, and return the loan commitment letter and the Assurance Regarding 
Felony Conviction or Tax Delinquent Status for Corporate Applicants 
(Form AD-3031) to RUS within 14 calendar days from the date of the loan 
commitment letter, or by September 25, 2020, if the loan is approved 
after September 10, 2020; otherwise, the commitment will be void. This 
form is available at https://www.ocio.usda.gov/document/ad3031.
    c. Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) Filing. The Borrower must provide 
RUS with evidence that the Borrower has filed the UCC financing 
statement required by 7 CFR 1720.8(a)(2). Upon filing of the 
appropriate UCC financing statement, the Guaranteed Lender will provide 
RUS with a perfection opinion by outside counsel which demonstrates 
that RUS's security interest in the pledged collateral under the Pledge 
Agreement is perfected.
    d. Additional conditions may be instituted for future obligations.

X. National Environmental Policy Act Certification

    For any proceeds to be used to refinance bonds and notes previously 
issued by the Guaranteed Lender for RE Act purposes that are not 
obligated for specific projects, RUS has determined that these 
financial actions will not individually or cumulatively have a 
significant effect on the human environment as defined by the National 
Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) and its 
implementing regulations at 40 CFR parts 1500-1508. However, for any 
new projects funded through the 313A Program, applicants must consult 
with RUS and comply with the Agency regulations at 7 CFR part 1970.

XI. Other Information and Requirements

    Applications must contain all the required elements of this NOSA 
and all standard requirements as required by 7 CFR part 1720. 
Additional supporting data or documents may be required by RUS 
depending on the individual application or financial conditions. All 
applicants must comply with all Federal laws and regulations.

XII. Agency Contacts

    A. Website: https://www.rd.usda.gov/contact-us/national-office/rus.
    B. Phone: (202) 720-9540.
    C. Fax: None.
    D. Email: [email protected].
    E. Main point of contact: Amy McWilliams, Program Advisor; 
[email protected]; TEL: (202) 720 9540 or (202) 205-8663.

XIII. USDA Non-Discrimination Statement

    In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of 
Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its 
Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or 
administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on 
race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity (including 
gender expression), sexual orientation, disability, age, marital 
status, family/parental status, income derived from a public assistance 
program, political beliefs, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil 
rights activity, in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA 
(not all bases apply to all programs). Remedies and complaint filing 
deadlines vary by program or incident.
    Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of 
communication for program information (e.g., Braille, large print, 
audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.) should contact the responsible 
Agency or USDA's TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TTY) or 
contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. 
Additionally, program information may be made available in languages 
other than English.
    To file a program discrimination complaint, complete the USDA 
Program Discrimination Complaint Form, AD-3027. Individuals wishing to 
file a discrimination complaint may use the form available at http://www.ocio.usda.gov/policy-directives-records-forms/forms-management/approved-computer-generated-forms and at any USDA office, or may write 
a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the 
information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint 
form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA 
by:
    (1) Mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of the Assistant 
Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 
20250-9410;
    (2) Fax: (202) 690-7442; or
    (3) Email: [email protected].
    USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.

    Authority: 7 U.S.C. 940c-1.

Chad Rupe,
Administrator, Rural Utilities Service.
[FR Doc. 2020-10507 Filed 5-15-20; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-15-P