Virginia State Capitol in Richmond, Va., Wednesday, April 22, 2020. (Bob Brown/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP, Pool)
Virginia State Capitol in Richmond, Va., Wednesday, April 22, 2020. (Bob Brown/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP, Pool)

Under the moratorium, sewer, water, gas, and electricity cannot be disconnected if a person cannot pay their bills.

Virginia regulators have extended a moratorium on utility shut-offs for another two weeks, giving lawmakers more time to continue their special session addressing Virginia’s COVID-19 economic crises. 

The State Corporation Commission extended their freeze on utility shut-offs from Aug. 31 to Sept. 16 in an effort to cut utility costs for residents affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The SCC explained their decision to extend the freeze in a media release

Under the moratorium, households’ sewer, water, gas and electricity cannot be disconnected if a person cannot pay their bills. However once the freeze ends, the unpaid bills will still be owed

“If such bills are never paid, the costs of these unpaid bills are ultimately borne by paying customers as operational costs of the utility,” said the SCC. “These costs do not disappear; they are shifted to other customers, who themselves may be struggling to make ends meet in the economic catastrophe caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The SCC originally put this order in place six months ago as an emergency measure to protect their consumers from the immediate economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic. 

However, the commission has warned that an indefinite moratorium is not sustainable. 

Once the moratorium expires, people who are a part of the SCC’s extended payment plan will be protected against late payment fees. 

“The expiration of our moratorium does not mean that customers are without options for continuing utility service, and we strongly urge utilities to make every effort to accommodate customers who are making good-faith efforts to pay their bills,” said the SCC in their release