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Utilities to Remain on During Coronavirus Outbreak

Downtown headquarters of Dominion Energy in Richmond, Virginia (Photo: Crixell Matthews/VPM)

Electricity, gas and water utility shut offs are suspended in Virginia for at least the next two months as a result of coronavirus. But state regulators and utilities are reminding customers to remain mindful of their usage during this time. 

The State Corporation Commission is putting a moratorium on service disconnections to provide immediate relief for both residential and business customers who may be financially impacted by the outbreak. 

“The reminder is that this doesn’t mean you don’t owe for the electric, natural gas or water service,” said SCC spokesman Ken Schrad. “So people should certainly continue or will be responsible for payment of the bill.”

Dominion Energy, Virginia’s largest utility company, is also, upon request, reconnecting residential customers whose services were shut off previously and asking the State Corporation Commission for permission to waive late fees. 

“If you’re a customer, and your power has been cut off recently, or you’re afraid that its going to be cut off in the future for non-payment, call us,” said Dominion Spokesperson Rayhan Daudani. “We want to work with you. We want to make sure that you have access.”

Daudani said the utility recognizes energy is critical during a state of emergency, and increasingly so now that people are working from home and school is out. He said reducing usage would help: “We know our customers are still going to be using energy, which means that they’re still going to be accruing bills and we want to make sure that they’re taking adequate steps to reduce their usage."

He says there are steps customers can take at home or in their business to cut down on how much energy they use, which can help them save money. 

“So that when you eventually do have the money to pay your bill that it is reduced and it’s something that you will be able to manage,” Daudani said. 

The full list of regulated utilities that are subject to the moratorium is in the SCC order, which can be found in this PDF

In addition to utility relief, many internet providers in Virginia are waiving late fees and pausing service disconnections for the next two months. Some are also providing WiFi hotspots to low-income families, since students across the state are doing school work remotely.

Whittney Evans is VPM News’ features editor.
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