SCC Moratorium on Utility Service Disconnects Will End on October 5

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SCC News

SCC Utility Service Cut-off Moratorium Will End on October 5; Governor Requested Extension from September 16

SEP 15, 2020

RICHMOND – The general moratorium on utility shutoffs is extended through October 5, 2020. The State Corporation Commission (SCC) issued the order following a request from Virginia Governor Ralph S. Northam. The moratorium was originally set to end on September 16.

In a letter to the Commission on September 14, the Governor said, “My request for an extension will give the General Assembly the time they need to address this issue, finalize their budget, and complete their important work during this special session.”

In granting another extension, the Commission said it will not extend the moratorium beyond October 5, 2020. 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 said, “We hope the General Assembly uses this additional time to act on this recommendation.”

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, 2020, as an emergency measure to protect customers from the immediate economic impacts of the COVID crisis.

The end of the Commission-directed moratorium on October 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.

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Case number PUR-2020-00048 - View Additional Order on Moratorium
Contact: Ken Schrad, 804-371-9858
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Telephone Assistance Plan Helps Low-Income Virginians Stay Connected

SEP 14, 2020

RICHMOND – Staying connected and having access to local emergency services and community resources is more important than ever during the COVID-19 public health emergency. The State Corporation Commission (SCC) is partnering with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners and the National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates during “National Telephone Discount Lifeline Awareness Week” September 14-18, 2020.

Lifeline, a federal program, offers a monthly discount of up to $9.25 toward phone or broadband services for eligible consumers and is available through certain local telephone and wireless companies. The goal of this nationwide outreach effort is to increase awareness about the Lifeline program and provide information to qualified participants. In addition to falling below a certain income level, you could be eligible if you participate in one of these federal assistance programs: 

  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Medicaid
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA)
  • Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit

Participants are limited to one Lifeline benefit per household. Participating companies can provide assistance with enrollment. A new option – the National Verifier (www.checklifeline.org) – makes it easier for consumers to assess eligibility and sign up for Lifeline. The SCC encourages Virginians to contact companies from whom you wish to receive service since not all companies are required to offer Lifeline service.

To learn more about Lifeline and the National Verifier, and to see if you are eligible, call 1-800-234-9473 or email lifelinesupport@usac.org or visit www.lifelinesupport.org or the FCC website at  www.fcc.gov/lifeline-consumers. You may also contact Lean Sorini with Universal Service Administrative Co., the company that administers the Lifeline program, at 202-772-6274 or at LifelineProgram@usac.org.

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Contact: Katha Treanor, 804-371-9141

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