The Utilities and Transportation Commission announced a virtual public meeting to review proposed utility guidelines for customer assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The commission will be reviewing a proposed term sheet submitted by UTC staff, outlining suggested guidelines for investor-owned electric and natural gas utilities to follow once the temporary pause on utility disconnects expires. These guidelines are based on the recommendations of the COVID-19 response workgroup, convened this summer to respond to economic impacts from the pandemic.
Key recommendations include:
- A moratorium on disconnections for nonpayment until April 30, 2021;
- Utilities will offer to reconnect customers who were disconnected for nonpayment between January and April 2020;
- Utilities will waive all late fees, and deposits for new customers, through Oct. 27, 2021.
- Utilities must work with customers to establish long-term payment arrangements for up to 18 months for residential customers and six months for small commercial customers;
- Utilities will not send active accounts to collection or report non-payment to credit bureaus until Oct. 27, 2021;
- An examination of the health and economic status related to COVID-19 conditions in early February 2021 to determine if resuming disconnections on April 30, 2021 should be reconsidered.
WHAT: Virtual-only public meeting
WHO: Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission
WHEN: Tuesday, Oct. 6, 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Join by Skype
Join by phone: (360) 407-3810
Conference ID: 648699
Note: Members of the public wishing to address the commission during the meeting should contact the commission’s Records Center by 5 p.m. on Oct. 5, 2020, by phone at (360) 664-1234 to have their information added to the sign-up list.
If you are not familiar with our open meeting process, learn how to participate.
On April 17, 2020, Gov. Jay Inslee issued Proclamation 20-23.2, which bans energy, water, and telecommunication companies from disconnecting customers due to nonpayment, refusing to reconnect residential customers who were disconnected for nonpayment, and charging late fees or reconnection fees. The proclamation is currently set to expire Oct. 15, 2020.
The UTC organized a COVID-19 response workgroup of stakeholders to facilitate the development of guidelines to make sure that customers experiencing economic hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic maintain access to essential services after the proclamation expires.
The UTC previously held a COVID-19 response special open meeting on June 16.
The UTC regulates the rates and services of the state’s investor-owned electric and natural gas utilities, landline telephone companies, and private water systems among other industries. It is the commission’s responsibility to ensure regulated companies provide safe and reliable service to customers at reasonable rates, while allowing them the opportunity to earn a fair profit.