Past-due payments to Virginia utilities exceeded $184 million as of June 30 as the coronavirus pandemic ravages local businesses and hampered employment, the State Corporation Commission reported.
A letter from the commission to House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax) and Senate President Pro Tempore Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth) laid out the monetary amount, which had been requested by a bipartisan group of lawmakers in order to prepare legislation addressing utility disconnections, the Virginia Mercury reported.
After Gov. Ralph Northam (D) declared a state of emergency amid the pandemic on March 12, many Virginia utility companies voluntarily stopped disconnecting water, electric, sewer or gas service for nonpayment. Dominion spokesperson Rayhan Daudani said his company “is committed to extending that policy until at least October 14, with regulatory approval.”
However, in May, the commission expressed concerns, saying “the current situation was not sustainable on an unlimited basis” and a June order extending the ban through Aug. 31 “emphasized that utility regulation alone cannot adequately address what is a much broader socioeconomic catastrophe,” the Mercury reported.
Additionally, $184 million total is likely even higher, since the commission’s letter addresses only 12 of Virginia’s electric and gas utilities.