augusta free press news

SCC utility service cut-off moratorium set to end on Oct. 5

SCCThe general moratorium on utility shutoffs is extended through Oct. 5. The State Corporation Commission issued the order following a request from Gov. Ralph S. Northam. The moratorium was originally set to end on Sept. 16.

In granting another extension, the Commission said it will not extend the moratorium beyond Oct. 5. 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 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 SCC’s latest extension order means the moratorium will have been in place for more than six months. It was originally imposed on March 16, as an emergency measure to protect customers from the immediate economic impacts of the COVID crisis.

The end of the Commission-directed moratorium on Oct. 5 does not mean the end of protections for customers in arrears who are making a good-faith effort to pay their bills over a longer time period. Customers who enter such extended payment plans with their utilities will continue to be protected from service cut-offs even after the end of this moratorium.

augusta free press
augusta free press