March 19, 2020

Warner & Kaine Urge Suspension of Utility Late Fees for Duration of Coronavirus Emergency

~ In letter to State Corporation Commission, Senators ask for expansion of existing moratorium on service disconnections for electricity, gas and water ~

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (D-VA) urged the body that regulates public utilities including electricity, natural gas and water in Virginia to promptly issue an order suspending the charging of late fees through the duration of Virginia’s state of emergency due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

In a letter to the Virginia State Corporation Commission, the Senators wrote, “First, we want to applaud the Commission for its recent order directing regulated electric, natural gas, and water companies in Virginia to suspend service disconnections due to non-payment for at least 60 days in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The temporary suspension of service disconnections is necessary to minimize adverse impacts on Virginians and public health. The continued service of public utilities – including electricity, water, and natural gas – is essential to protect the health and well-being of Virginians and prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

The Senators encouraged the Commission to enact additional measures to protect vulnerable Virginians during this public health emergency, specifically by suspending late fees for the duration of the crisis.

“While the suspension of service disconnections will ensure the continued service of essential public utilities for Virginians, the unprecedented scope of this public health crisis requires additional measures to ease the burden on Virginians. One such measure should be a temporary suspension of late payment charges by public utilities,” advised the Senators. “As this public health emergency intensifies, thousands of Virginians will likely be furloughed or have their work hours substantially reduced. This will put an enormous strain on countless families in the Commonwealth to make ends meet. Suspending late fees during this state of emergency would help ease the burden on the most vulnerable Virginians during this tumultuous time, if only slightly.”

A copy of the letter is found here and below.

 

Mark C. Christie

Chairman

The Commonwealth of Virginia State Corporation Commission

P.O. Box 1157

Richmond, VA 23218

 

Judith Williams Jagdmann

Commissioner

The Commonwealth of Virginia State Corporation Commission

P.O. Box 1157

Richmond, VA 23218

 

Dear Commissioners:

We write today concerning the ongoing public health emergency in the Commonwealth of Virginia caused by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and the Virginia State Corporation Commission’s (SCC) role in regulating public utilities during this state of emergency. Due to this ongoing health crisis, we respectfully request that the Commission promptly issue an order suspending the ability of any public utility in Virginia to charge late fees through the duration of Virginia’s state of emergency.

First, we want to applaud the Commission for its recent order directing regulated electric, natural gas, and water companies in Virginia to suspend service disconnections due to non-payment for at least 60 days in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The temporary suspension of service disconnections is necessary to minimize adverse impacts on Virginians and public health. The continued service of public utilities – including electricity, water, and natural gas – is essential to protect the health and well-being of Virginians and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

While the suspension of service disconnections will ensure the continued service of essential public utilities for Virginians, the unprecedented scope of this public health crisis requires additional measures to ease the burden on Virginians. One such measure should be a temporary suspension of late payment charges by public utilities. As this public health emergency intensifies, thousands of Virginians will likely be furloughed or have their work hours substantially reduced. This will put an enormous strain on countless families in the Commonwealth to make ends meet. Suspending late fees during this state of emergency would help ease the burden on the most vulnerable Virginians during this tumultuous time, if only slightly.

Again, we want to thank the Commission for its recent order directing public utilities to suspend service disconnections due to non-payment during this public health emergency. We also want to thank you in advance for your consideration of this request, and we look forward to working with you and other stakeholders to ensure the health and well-being of all Virginians moving forward.

Sincerely,

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