SCC bans most utility cutoffs until Aug. 31
Jeremy M. Lazarus | 6/18/2020, 6 p.m.
Virginians who have fallen far behind in paying their electric bills have gained a two-month reprieve from disconnections.
The State Corporation Commission has ordered service disconnections halted until Monday, Aug. 31, continuing the ban on disconnections that has been in place since March 16. The order also bans imposition of late payment fees.
Aug. 31 was chosen to give the governor and the General Assembly, which is to meet in special session in August, time to consider policies related to the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic on customers.
The SCC’s June 12 order also impacts private companies that provide water, sewer and natural gas service, though not municipally owned operations like the Richmond Department of Public Utilities.
Dominion Energy, the state’s largest electricity provider, had sought SCC permission to suspend disconnections through Oct. 14. The utility has not disconnected any electrical service since mid-March.
Dominion Energy also is urging people who are behind to call and is offering an extended repayment plan to allow customers to stretch out payment of arrears over 12 months.
In addition, the company is increasing its EnergyShare grants to low-income households from $900 to $1,200 annually for cooling and heating.
Meanwhile, utility disconnections also remain on hold in Richmond for customers who have fallen behind in paying water, sewer, natural gas and refuse collection bills.
Rhonda Johnson, spokeswoman for the City of Richmond Department of Public Utilities, said suspension of disconnec- tions would remain in force until the city and state lift their emergency order for the coronavirus.
Ms. Johnson noted that DPU had scheduled court proceedings related to utility service disconnections prior to the March 12 declaration of emergency.
However, she stated that DPU would not actively enforce any court judgments or pursue wage or bank garnishments to cover unpaid bills while the state of emergency is in place.