Virginia ends moratorium on utility disconnections for missed payments

Virginia customers unable to pay their utilities during the coronavirus pandemic are no longer protected by a moratorium stopping providers from shutting off electricity, gas, water or sewer service.

The State Corporation Commission said it would allow the moratorium to end on Oct. 5, after it had been extended past its previous ending date of Sept. 16. It urged the Virginia General Assembly to set aside funds for direct financial assistance to those unable to pay their bills.

But despite its end, Dominion Energy said it did not intend to start turning off the lights for nonpayments right away. The energy company had supported the moratorium’s extension, and is offering customers up to 12 months to start paying their balances starting June 15, with no minimum down payment required.

In addition to extending repayment, Dominion said it expanded assistance and eligibility for EnergyShare, its bill assistance program to help those facing financial difficulties.

For residential customers, Dominion said it contributed an additional $500,000 to the EnergyShare program, bringing the total available this year to around $13.5 million.

For business customers, Dominion contributed $500,000 to the Small Business Relief Program, which will offer one-time assistance of up to $1,000 toward unpaid Dominion Energy electric bills that may have accrued during the pandemic by small businesses, nonprofits and houses of worship.

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