RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A new allocation of $60 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Recovery, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding was announced Monday to support municipal utility relief efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a release, this new allocation will be combined with Governor Ralph Northam’s proposed budget amendment to provide $60 million for jurisdictional utilities, for a total of $120 million for residential and non-residential utility customers impacted by the ongoing public health crisis.
“These are challenging times for Virginia families and businesses, and we remain committed to helping them keep the electricity on and the water running,” Northam said. “This program will provide critical financial relief to those struggling to pay their utility bills and ensure that Virginians can remain safely in their homes with access to basic utilities as we continue our fight against COVID-19.”
According to the governor’s office, the $60 million municipal utility relief program will be administered by the Department of Housing and Community Development and the Department of Accounts. Officials say the program will allow counties and cities to apply to set up smaller, locally-administered relief programs, which will support customers’ bill payments and assist with outstanding debt.
“The pandemic has placed a tremendous burden on Virginians, and I applaud the Governor for recognizing the importance of utility relief,” Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball said. “Families can sleep easier at night knowing their lights will remain on and their water running — and our Commonwealth will be safer as a result.”