Panel rejects Northam bid to extend disconnection moratorium

Panel rejects Northam bid to extend disconnection moratorium
Gov. Ralph Northam holding a press briefing in Richmond. (Source: VPM)

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT/AP) - The State Corporation Commission has rejected a bid by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam to extend a moratorium on utility service disconnections that was set to expire on Monday.

In a letter to Northam that was dated Thursday, the commission said the consumer protections it mandated should continue beyond Oct. 5.

That portion of the order calls for jurisdictional utilities to continue to offer extended payment plans of up to 12 months. The commission also directs customers on those or similar plans should not be charged late fees and should not be disconnected and that for those customers, the moratorium protections continue.

Northam asked the commission for the moratorium to be extended through Dec. 1 or a General Assembly reconvened session.

The General Assembly is still in its special session, so Northam said the request was intended to give lawmakers the time they need to finish the work and address the issue.

On Aug. 18, Northam introduced a budget to the General Assembly he says addressed the moratorium, repayment plan structure and a debt forgiveness program.

“With proposals for utilities and customers included in both the House and Senate’s recently introduced budget proposals, we are optimistic that the General Assembly will address this issue. The intent of this request is to ensure that there are no disconnections between the expiration of the current order and when the budget becomes law,” Northam wrote.

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