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CONSUMER ALERT: Utility disconnection ban ends Sept. 30
Contact your utility today to avoid losing service
LACEY, Wash. – The ban on disconnections for utilities expires on Sept. 30 — customers with overdue bills should act now to avoid disconnection.
Once the ban expires, utilities can disconnect customers with overdue bills. However, investor-owned energy and water utilities will stop the disconnect process if customers set up a payment plan or apply for customer assistance funds. To avoid disconnection, customers should call their utilities today to make a plan.
If customers haven’t applied for assistance funds yet, it’s not too late. There are several programs available:
Federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds are available through local community action program agencies. If you qualify, you may also be eligible for water assistance.
COVID-19 financial assistance for rent and utilities is available through the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
UTC regulated energy and water utilities must also offer long-term payment plans for up to 18 months and cannot charge late fees or reconnection fees until March 29, 2022.
Even if you think you don’t qualify for help, you should still call your utility today.
For more information, visit the UTC’s Covid Customer Assistance page. If you are facing disconnection and have already contacted your utility, call the UTC’s consumer protection staff at 888-333-WUTC (9882) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In April 2020, Gov. Jay Inslee issued a proclamation banning all energy, water, and telecommunication companies from disconnecting customers due to nonpayment, and later extended it through Sept. 30, 2021.
Last year, the UTC organized a COVID-19 response workgroup of stakeholders to facilitate development of guidelines to make sure that customers experiencing economic hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic maintain access to essential services after the proclamation expires.
As a result of this stakeholder work, the UTC issued a disconnection moratorium and term sheet for its investor-owned energy utilities, and later issued a similar moratorium and term sheet for its water utilities. The UTC extended the disconnection bans through Sept. 30, 2021, and certain consumer protections through March 29, 2022.
The UTC regulates the rates and services of the state’s investor-owned electric and natural gas utilities, landline telephone companies, and private water systems among other industries. It is the commission’s responsibility to ensure regulated companies provide safe and reliable service to customers at reasonable rates, while allowing them the opportunity to earn a fair profit.