Utilities will not be cut off to Virginians not currently paying their bills for a few more weeks.
Gov. Ralph Northam requested the State Corporation Commission extend the deadline, which was set to expire Wednesday.
In granting this extension, the Commission said it will not extend the moratorium beyond Oct. 5.
This latest extension order means the moratorium will have been in place for more than 6 months. It was originally imposed on March 16, 2020, as an emergency measure to protect customers from the immediate economic impacts of the COVID crisis.
The Commission wrote, “Since we first imposed the moratorium on March 16, 2020, we have warned repeatedly that this moratorium is not sustainable indefinitely. The mounting costs of unpaid bills must eventually be paid, either by the customers in arrears or by other customers who themselves may be struggling to pay their bills. Unless the General Assembly explicitly directs that a utility’s own shareholders must bear the cost of unpaid bills, those costs will almost certainly be shifted to other paying customers.”
The Commission urged the Governor and General Assembly to appropriate funds for direct financial assistance to those customers who are unable to pay their bills due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Commission said, “We hope the General Assembly uses this additional time to act on this recommendation.”
No family should have to go without critical utilities during a pandemic. Thank you to the @VAStateCorpComm for granting my request.— Ralph Northam (@GovernorVA) September 15, 2020
I've also proposed a utility disconnection moratorium and supporting programs in our budget. To my friends in the legislature—let's get this done. https://t.co/rkPNyzdBQr