RICHMOND (April 7, 2020) – Attorney General Mark R. Herring has asked the State Corporation Commission (SCC) to extend its utility disconnection suspension through at least June 10th when Virginia’s state of emergency is currently scheduled to end. Last month, the SCC halted utility disconnections for non-payment and suspended late charges following Attorney General Herring’s emergency petition requesting a freeze on disconnections.
“As we continue to grapple with the health and financial crises brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is clear that this extension is needed to make sure that all Virginians have access to water, power and gas during the entirety of the state of emergency,” said Attorney General Herring. “This extension is especially important for hourly wage earners and those who work in the service industry who have been particularly affected by social distancing efforts and stay at home orders. I hope the SCC will continue to give Virginians some peace of mind during this time while we continue to ask them to stay home to prevent further spread of this virus.”
As Attorney General Herring explains in the filing “the temporary suspension of service disconnections for reason of non-payment is needed to minimize adverse impacts on the public health and safety during this period of health and financial crisis.” Additionally, he adds that “during the immediate time of this emergency, the public interest requires that basic needs such as power, heat, and water go uninterrupted for all customers.” The Attorney General has sought the suspension of late fees during this time, but it is important to note that customers will eventually have to pay for the utilities they use during this time. If customers are able to, they should continue to pay their utility bills to avoid higher balances in the future.
In addition to extending the utility disconnection suspensions, Attorney General Herring also asks the SCC to consider the following:
- Reconnect service for any customers who request reconnection who had it disconnected for non-payment before the Suspension Order
- Waive any requirements that would make it harder for utilities to reconnect service
- Suspend late fees
- Provide for any other relief the Commission deems appropriate and necessary