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COVID-19 Resources

Resources for renewable energy businesses.

The COVID-19 outbreak is a significant health and economic crisis. Given the circumstances, we at MREA are working to support the Montana renewable energy industry in any way we can. This page is home to resources for Montana renewable energy businesses related to the COVID-19 pandemic. If there is outdated or missing information that you are seeking, please reach out to us immediately.

MREA encourages all businesses engaged in the renewable energy industry in Montana to follow local, state, and federal safety and social distancing best practices and guidelines.

Note: any and all information below is not an official opinion. Our goal is to provide helpful information. You should seek the interpretation of legal, accounting, and/or tax professionals where needed.
Page last updated: 6/9/2020. 

Public Health Resources

Business Resources


NEW: PPP Flexibility Act Provisions

One June 8th, the SBA issued a press release that highlights the key provisions of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Flexibility Act. Those include:

  • Extends the covered period for loan forgiveness from eight weeks after the date of loan disbursement to 24 weeks after the date of loan disbursement
  • Lowers the requirements that 75 percent of a borrower’s loan proceeds must be used for payroll costs and reduces it to 60%
  • Provides several safe harbor provisions for businesses who reduced staff and may not be able to return to their original staffing levels
  • And more.

In addition, the new rules will confirm that June 30, 2020 remains the last date on which a PPP loan application can be approved

SBA Press Release on the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act.

SBA Loan Forgiveness Application and Resources

The Small Business Administration has released the application for loan forgiveness for borrowers who received funds from the Paycheck Protection Program. The application itself provides guidance and instructions for borrowers. SBA has also released several new interim rules to with Q&A sections to guide borrowers on loan forgiveness questions.

SBA Loan Forgiveness Application Press Release  |  SBA Loan Forgiveness Application (PDF)

Interim rule and information on Loan Forgiveness (PDF)

Interim rule on loan review procedures and borrower and lender responsibilities (PDF)

UPDATED: Montana CARES Act Funds Appropriation

Montana was appropriated $1.25 billion in funding as part of the CARES Act. The funding will provide emergency grants through various grant programs. More information on all programs can be found on the MT Dept. of Commerce website. Some of the most most applicable to small businesses are listed below.

Montana Department of Commerce, Montana Business Stabilization Program
The Montana Business Stabilization Grant program will provide working capital for small businesses to support payroll, rent, accounts payable, debt service and expenses related to shifts in operations in order to retain existing businesses, retain current employees or retain business viability for future re-employment. Eligible small business must be Montana-owned, employ 50 or less, have sustained a loss of revenue since Feb. 15 due to COVID 19, and be in good standing with the Secretary of State or local tribal government. Total funding available is $50 million, the maximum award amount per business is $10,000. For business questions, call: 1.800.755.6672.

NEW! Montana Business Adaptation Program, administered by the Montana Dept. of Natural Resources and Conservation
The Montana Business Adaptation Program will provide reimbursement for COVID-19 expenses related to keeping staff and customers safe – from the purchase of personal protective equipment to resources needed for staff to work remotely. Eligible small businesses must be Montana-based, employ 50 or less, have incurred eligible adaptation expenses since Feb. 15 due to COVID-19, and be in good standing with the Secretary of State or local tribal government. Nonprofit entities are eligible. Eligible expenses include costs related to communication, remote work equipment, cleaning supplies, tools to enhance social distancing and sanitation, travel and hotel costs related to quarantining workers. Total funding available is $20 million, the maximum reimbursement amount per business is $5,000. More information: 1.800.755.6672

Tax Filing Deadlines and Tax Credits

Federal tax filing deadlines extended to July 15, 2020. IRS website
This relief applies to all individual returns, trusts, and corporations. This relief also includes estimated tax payments for tax year 2020 that are due on April 15, 2020. Penalties and interest will begin to accrue on any remaining unpaid balances as of July 16, 2020. You will automatically avoid interest and penalties on the taxes paid by July 15.

Montana tax filing deadline extended, but for individuals only. MT Dept. of Revenue website
According to the the MT Dept. of Revenue, the tax filing deadline has been automatically extended to July 15th for individuals. However, this extension does not apply to corporations and businesses.

Tax Credits associated with COVID-19. The IRS has posted a webpage on COVID-19-related tax credits for required paid leave provided by small and midsize businesses. The top of the page has explanations of the various credits. If you scroll down the page, there is an FAQ section as well.

If you are looking to apply for a loan through any of the stimulus packages, please keep in mind that you may only be eligible to receive a loan from one program and not multiple programs, and that claiming certain tax credits may make you ineligible for certain relief loans. Your current lender or your legal, accounting, or tax professional should be able to help you understand which is the best option for your business. You can also call the Montana District Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act impact and implications

The Families First Coronavirus Recovery Act ("FFCRA", became law 3/18) provides, among other things: paid sick leave, tax credits, and free COVID-19 testing; expanding food assistance and unemployment benefits; and increasing Medicaid funding. For employers, it gives all American businesses with fewer than 500 employees funds to provide employees with paid leave, either for the employee’s own health needs or to care for family members. There are also tax credits available that provide dollar-for-dollar coverage for small businesses that are now required to make those payments. Further, small businesses with fewer than 50 employees receive certain exemptions for specific payments. More information is available on the U.S. Dept. of Labor's Wage and Hour Division websites:

Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Employer Paid Leave Requirements

Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Frequently Asked Questions

April 1 update on FFCRA and Paid Leave rules from Wage and Hour Division

March 26 Press release from Wage and Hour Division about the FFCRA

CARES Act Impacts and Implications

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act ("CARES", became law 3/27) provides economic relief for households and businesses across the country. This is the third response package the Congress has passed, and focuses on economic stimulus. Among other items, the CARES Act allocated nearly $350 billion for small business assistance. This "Paycheck Protection Program" offers small business loans to help cover payroll costs, including benefits, as well as paying interest of mortgages, rent, and utilities. Importantly, these loans may be eligible to be 100% forgiven, if borrows maintain and restore their payrolls after the crisis. For more information see below, "Small Business Loans and Information"

This section will be updated once continue to receive guidance documents from government agencies on implementation.

Small Business Loans and Information

The CARES Act allocated nearly $350 billion for small business assistance. This "Paycheck Protection Program" offers small business loans to help cover payroll costs, including benefits, as well as paying interest of mortgages, rent, and utilities. The window for small business loans opens on April 3rd for small businesses and sole proprietorships and April 10th for independent contractors and the self-employed.

U.S. Department of Treasury. The Dept. of Treasury has very simplified fact sheets about the Paycheck Protection Program, as well as the PDF of the form for borrowers. You can find all of these documents here.

U.S. Small Business Administration. Small business owners in all U.S. states, Washington D.C., and territories are currently eligible to apply for a long-term, low-interest loan due to impacts from the Coronavirus (COVID-19). More information on options and resources can found on the USSBA's website: COVID-19: Small Business Guidance & Loan Resources

Small Business Administration, Montana District Office:
Website   |    (406) 441-1081
10 West 15th Street Suite 1100, Helena, MT

U.S. Chamber of Commerce guide for small business loans. In addition to the Dept. of Treasury's guide, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has created a guide to help understanding eligibility and prepare to file for the CARES Act loans.  Download the Loan Guide (PDF)

If you are looking to apply for a loan through any of the stimulus packages, please keep in mind that you may only be eligible to receive a loan from one program and not multiple programs, and that claiming certain tax credits may make you ineligible for certain relief loans. Your current lender or your legal, accounting, or tax professional should be able to help you understand which is the best option for your business. You can also call the Montana District Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Phased Approach to Reopening the Big Sky

On Wednesday, April 22 Governor Bullock released his plan for a "Phased Approach to Reopening the Big Sky" which will begin on Sunday, April 24th as the Stay at Home Directives expire. The plan summarizes the Governor's phased approach to ease social distancing directives and allow businesses to reopen once again.

PDF of the Plan   |   PDF of Reopening Guidelines   |   News coverage

Governor's Stay at Home Directive. Issued 3/26. Download the PDF
On March 26th, Governor Bullock issued a Stay at Home Directive that directs all non-essential businesses to cease operations effective 12:01 am on March 28th through Friday, April 10th. The Directive was later extended through April 24th. The Directive does not mandate a complete shutdown of businesses.


Online Trainings

Montana Electrical JATC . Our friends at the JATC have shared that they are going to be moving a number of their trainings to an online format. We will be sharing those opportunities with our installer listserv and posting them here.

Solar Energy International. Our friends at SEI offer online courses for solar training, and in response to everything going on have launched the Global Solar Connection Initiative. According to SEI, "The purpose of this initiative is to create a global sense of connection and community around renewable energy education. We are offering multiple opportunities to get connected and start (or further) your solar energy education." Visit SEI's website.


News and Media

  • Small business loan program extended (Billings Gazette, 6/5)
  • Governor unveils plan for 'reopening' Montana (Great Falls Tribune, 4/22)
  • Senate approves measure to replenish halted coronavirus small-business loan program (USA Today, 4/21)
  • Small Business Emergency Relief Program Hits $349 Billion Cap In Less Than 2 Weeks (NPR, 4/16)
  • Governor issues stay-at-home order in Montana due to coronavirus (Great Falls Tribune, 3/26)
  • Nearly $2T stimulus package omits direct renewable sector aid after Trump, McConnell opposition (UtilityDive, 3/26)
  • Solar developers launch lobbying effort to curb COVID-19 impacts, advance remote permitting (UtilityDive, 3/23)