Utilities say they won't disconnect customers yet for non-payment

As of Oct. 6, utilities in Virginia are once again allowed to disconnect customers for non-payment. But the three electric providers in Louisa County say they are not beginning disconnections at this time.  

“Dominion Energy supports the General Assembly’s proposed approach to extending the moratorium on disconnects and will not disconnect any Virginia customers for non-payment while waiting for the General Assembly’s final actions to take effect,” said Rayhan Daudani, a Dominion spokesman.

Central Virginia Electric Cooperative, which serves western Louisa County, has a statement on the issue on its website representing the 13 cooperatives in Virginia. 

'Out of concern for our member-owners and their communities, the 13 electric cooperatives in the Commonwealth are waiving service disconnects and late fees for our residential member-owners at this time and continue to work with our business, commercial and industrial member-owners to mitigate the impact of the state of emergency until further notice," the statement reads.

Casey Hollins, Rappahannock Electric Cooperative's spokesperson, said the statement dates from the beginning of the pandemic. But regardless of what other co-ops may do going forward, REC will not disconnect any members in the near future, she said.

"If we do, we'll give members ample notice," she said.

In September, the State Corporation Commission extended its order suspending disconnects until Oct. 5. It said at the time it would not issue any more extensions.

Members of the Virginia General Assembly presented budget amendments to Gov. Ralph Northam in late September that would direct Dominion to forgive all customer balances that had remained unpaid for a certain amount of time, according to The Virginia Mercury. Dominion would then be allowed to recoup that amount by adjusting how much it refunds customers in 2021.

"Outside bill forgiveness, both budgets ... support Northam’s proposal to extend the existing ban on utility disconnections to 60 days beyond the end of Virginia’s declared state of emergency or until conditions improve," the Mercury reported. That would apply to the cooperatives as well.

Dominion is offering customers up to 12 months, starting June 15, to pay down past due balances, Daudani said. No minimum down payment is required. The company has also expanded assistance and eligibility for EnergyShare, a bill assistance program that helps residents facing hardship.

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