Utility service disconnections on pause during coronavirus state of emergency


(Photo: Courtesy MGN)

ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — Utility companies in the region announced a temporary suspension of service disconnections due to the coronavirus state of emergency declared by Gov. Ralph Northam.

On Monday, March 16, the State Corporation Commission (SCC) ordered a 60-day temporary moratorium on service suspension from electric, natural gas and water companies in Virginia “until the coronavirus outbreak subsides.”

Appalachian Power announced Friday the temporary suspension of disconnection for customers who have not paid their utility bills.

Appalachian Power in a Facebook post stated “At Appalachian Power, we’re committed to the health and safety of our customers, communities and employees.”

The power company services 450,000 residential customers in central and southwest Virginia, said Teresa Hamilton Hall, Appalachian Power spokesperson.

Roanoke Gas Company said on Monday via a Facebook post that “Due to the unique and extenuating circumstances related to the pandemic and in the best interests of our customers, both residential and commercial, we have suspended disconnections for non-payment.”

Western Virginia Water Authority (WVWA), which is not governed by the SCC, suspended service disconnection for two weeks, while public schools are out, said Sarah Baumgardner, WVWA’s director of public relations.

People will continue to receive their water consumption invoice, Baumgardner said and are encouraged to pay their bill.

For people who are unable to pay their bills, the authority refers them to Central Intake, a Roanoke-run hub for homeless and homeless prevention services. Programs exist that can cover outstanding water and sewer bills, Baumgardner said.

Central Intake can be reached at (540) 853-1163, Mon.- Fri., 8 a.m.- 5 p.m.


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