State Regulators Extend COVID-19 Protections for Utility Customers

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State regulators have extended protections for electric and natural gas customers experiencing financial hardships as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission ordered electric and natural gas utility companies in the state to continue a moratorium on disconnections for nonpayment until Sept. 30, according to a news release.

Utility companies will continue to waive deposits for new customers and late fees through March 29 of next year.

The UTC advises customers experiencing financial hardship to ask utilities about their options, which include assistance funds, long-term payment plans and budget billing.

The UTC ordered investor-owned utilities last year to create temporary COVID-19 bill relief programs, resulting in more than $40 million in assistance funds for customers.

Customers are eligible for the funds if they earn no more than 200% of the Federal Poverty Level. Customers can receive up to $2,500 per year in bill assistance.Even if a customer has already received help, or doesn't think they qualify, they should still call their utility today, according to the release.

The UTC encourages customers to visit http://www.utc.wa.gov/covidhelp for more information.

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