- Major utilities across the country last week halted service disconnections and implemented flexible payment plans to assist customers in dealing with the spread of coronavirus and its economic impacts.
- Utilities across the nation are working "working with their communities and their regulators to identify ways to assist customers during this health emergency," Edison Electric Institute (EEI) spokesman Brian Reil told Utility Dive. Duke Energy, American Electric Power, Dominion Power, Southern California Edison and other investor-owned utilities voluntarily suspended disconnections.
- Connecticut, New Jersey, Ohio and other states have ordered a suspension of service disconnections across the entire state. Some local governments, including Seattle, Washington, and Austin, Texas, have put in place similar orders.
President Donald Trump on Friday declared the spread of COVID-19 a national emergency, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended an eight week halt to events of more than 50 people. Governors in some states have closed bars and restaurants, in an attempt to limit the spread. And public schools across the country are closing for weeks.
Amid the United States' heightened response to the spread of coronavirus, a growing number of utilities are halting service disconnections and taking other steps, including waiving late fees, shutting down payment centers and setting up flexible payment plans.
The response from utilities is part of a national effort to aid customers, according to EEI.
"We are committed to helping every customer through difficult times, and we know there will be many challenges associated with this pandemic," Pepco Holdings President and CEO Dave Velazquez said in a statement. "From programs that provide supplemental support, billing options that spread costs more evenly, to relief of late payment fees, we are taking important steps to support our customers and communities."
Pepco, an Exelon subsidiary, suspended service disconnections and waived new late payment fees through at least May. The utility's coronavirus response is similar to actions taken at other electric companies.
Pacific Gas and Electric placed a moratorium on service disconnections applies to both residential and commercial customers, and the company said it will remain in effect until further notice.
"We recognize that this is a rapidly changing situation and an uncertain time for many of our customers," PG&E Vice President Laurie Giammona said in a said in a statement.
Consolidated Edison, FirstEnergy, Georgia Power and a host of other utilities have taken similar actions.
Utilities are also warning they have seen a spike in phishing attempts and scams related to the virus. And EEI has warned that electric companies could see up to 40% of their workforce out sick as the coronavirus continues to spread.