Seven months into the pandemic, we’re getting a clearer picture of just how many people are falling behind on their bills. Most water, gas and electric providers are reporting a sharp increase in the number of accounts with outstanding balances. The companies are urging customers to contact them immediately to set up payment plans or apply for other assistance.
There is a moratorium on utility shutoffs in Washington, D.C., until 15 days after the public health emergency, which currently extends through the end of the year. Virginia’s moratorium ended Oct. 5, but state lawmakers passed legislation that would extend it. That bill is awaiting the governor’s signature. Maryland’s moratorium ends Nov. 15, and utility companies were allowed to start sending shutoff notices to customers on Oct. 1.