WASHINGTON — As the partial government shutdown grinds on, one of the D.C. area’s largest utilities says it’s offering potentially cash-strapped federal employees help with keeping the heat on.
Washington Gas, which has more than 1 million customers in D.C., Maryland and Virginia, said it’s offering a range of flexible payment options for federal workers, including deferred payments and a plan that will allow customers to spread the cost of winter heating over the course of the entire year.
Washington Gas said federal employees affected by the shutdown who want to make arrangements should call customer service representatives at 1-844-WASHGAS (844-927-4427) to discuss their individual situations.
“We recognize that federal government employees may be in a challenging financial position as the shutdown continues,” said Adrian Chapman, president and CEO of Washington Gas, in a statement. “We will work with affected employees so that they continue to receive their natural gas service without interruption.”
Washington Gas said it will work with cash-strapped customers who “show a willingness to pay past due amounts” by deferring payments. The deferred payment agreements prevent customers from accruing late charges, turn-off notices and collection calls.
Washington Gas also offers a 12-month budget plan, which allows customers to spread the cost of winter heating over the entire year to account for typically higher winter bills.
The Washington Area Fuel Fund, administered by the Salvation Army, helps families who do not qualify or have exhausted other types of assistance. Washington Gas has recently increased funding for the program to broaden eligibility beyond low-income customers. Washington Gas says a family of four earning about $75,000 would qualify for assistance under the fund.
A total of about 800,000 federal employees are estimated to be affected by the partial shutdown — including employees who have been furloughed and those required to work without pay.
Unless an agreement on government funding is reached, this Friday is set to mark the first missed paycheck for federal employees since the shutdown went into effect Dec. 22.