State extends utility cutoff protection through April 2021

VIDEO: State regulators considering banning all electricity cutoffs for non-payment until next April

coronavirus — State regulators on Tuesday extended protections against utility cutoffs for people who can’t pay through April 30, 2021.

The Utilities and Transportation Commission also ordered investor-owned utilities to continue waiving new customer deposits and late fees through Oct. 27, 2021.

The actions are in response to customers who are unable to pay their utility bills during the COVID-19 economic crisis.

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Gov. Jay Inslee previously ordered a moratorium on shut-offs, which he extended nine times.

The latest extension expires Oct. 15.

Some utilities stated they have been helping customers.

Puget Sound Energy reported giving $7.6 million in bill credits to nearly 14,000 customers.

“We know this has been an extremely difficult time for our customers. So even before there was a mandate to do so, we voluntarily suspended disconnections in early March,” said Janet Kim, of PSE.

Consumer advocates want to make sure all utilities are required to offer longer payment plans and forgive debt.

“Many have indicated that if the moratoriums expire, they will cut customers off from power or heat,” said Ruth Sawyer, of the Sierra Club.