Nearly 60 state leaders request utility disconnect ban extension

Virginia News
utility_services

(WRIC) — Nearly 60 members of the Virginia General Assembly have called for the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) to extend the suspension of utility service disconnections.

The SCC’s state order of suspending disconnections, instituted as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, is set to expire on Monday, June 15.

On Friday, 58 Virginia delegates and senators requested that the SCC gather more information from “regulated public utilities on how many Virginians have been unable to pay their utility bills and its fiscal impact on those utilities.” 

Legislators have requested, in part, that the SCC requires every public utility to file data from all regulated public utilities, including how many customers have unpaid utility bills and the number of customers disconnected:

  • The number of residential and non-residential customer accounts of each utility currently in arrearage, as compared to historical averages;
  • Aggregated data on how many of those customers are Low-income,  Disabled, Elderly, Veterans, or Residents of historically economically disadvantaged communities.
  • The number of residential and non-residential accounts disconnected in the current year and not reconnected;
  • The total current arrearage balance of each utility, as compared to historical averages;
  • Information regarding each utility’s revenue and earnings history;
  • Information regarding each utility’s financial strength and debt service reserves;
  • The magnitude of late fees and penalties that would have been charged absent the moratorium
  • Any other data the Commission may deem relevant.

“Virginia families are facing a historic economic and health crisis,” said Senator Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond). “Families should not also have to face the fear of having their utilities shut off during the coronavirus pandemic.”

This request comes after 8News reported the SCC issued a stark warning late May on the lasting effects of extending the suspension of service disconnections for non-payment, echoing concerns from April that “unpaid utility bills pose serious costs that mount daily.”

Days later, Dominion Energy Virginia asked state regulators to give utilities the option to suspend service disconnections for another four months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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