State moratorium on utility disconnections end Thursday

<p><p>The state’s moratorium preventing utility disconnections is ending this week and the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission is urging customers with overdue bills to contact utility companies to avoid losing service.</p></p><p><p>Utilities can disconnect customers with overdue bills once the ban expires Thursday.</p></p><p><p>Investor-owned energy and water utilities will stop the disconnect process if customers set up a payment plan or apply for assistance funds, according to the UTC.</p></p><p><p>Avista Utilities has allocated more than $6.5 million <a href=”https://www.myavista.com/your-account/power-of-compassion/washington-assistance” target=”_blank”>in assistance funds</a> for low-income customers, who may be eligible to receive up to $2,500 per year, according to a UTC release.</p></p><p><p>Federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance funds are available through <a href=”https://www.commerce.wa.gov/growing-the-economy/energy/low-income-home-energy-assistance” target=”_blank”>local community action program agencies</a> and COVID-19 financial assistance for rent and utilities is available through <a href=”https://www.consumerfinance.gov/coronavirus/mortgage-and-housing-assistance/renter-protections/find-help-with-rent-and-utilities” target=”_blank”>the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.</a></p></p><p><p>UTC regulated energy and water utilities must also offer long-term payment plans for up to 18 months and are prohibited from charging late or reconnection fees until March 29.</p></p><p><p> Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward and the City Council will consider a transition period for customers to catch up on utility payments following the end of the moratorium, according to the city’s website.</p></p><p><p>The city’s extension on utility shutoffs would cover water, stormwater and solid waste collection, but not electric and gas service, according to a Spokesman-Review <a href=”https://www.spokesman.com/stories/2021/sep/24/woodward-to-propose-six-month-transition-period-fo” target=”_blank”>article published last week.</a></p></p>