Charleston Gazette-Mail, Huntington Herald-Dispatch, The Logan Banner – A general order issued earlier this year by the West Virginia Public Service Commission urging utilities to halt service disconnections for unpaid bills was to expire Tuesday night. Read full article here.
The order was put in place in March, as the financial hardships brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and related business shutdowns began to take hold. Now, any disconnection notices sent after July 1 could result in utility shutoffs, said Jackie Roberts, director of the PSC’s Consumer Advocacy Division.
“In March, the commission urged the utilities not to disconnect customers because of the pandemic. Fortunately, West Virginia utilities complied with that request,” Roberts said. “Now, it’s up to the utilities to decide when their disconnections will resume. Each utility may be different, and I urge customers to contact their utilities to determine what they intend to do and when they intend to do it.”
Seth DiStefano, policy outreach director at the West Virginia Center on Budget & Policy, said that, while the state continues to reopen, the financial burden continues for many people.
“It’s abundantly clear that the unemployment impact of COVID-19 and the economic sector impact of the pandemic are severe, very severe for West Virginians,” DiStefano said. “Even marginally coming back to work, families are struggling with food security, health care, rent, utilities. All of this is palatable for West Virginia families.”