On Friday, April 17th, Governor Inslee signed a new proclamation to help utilities across the state preserve access to essential utility services and alleviate economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The NW Energy Coalition commends Governor Inslee for his leadership and work to protect Washington’s most vulnerable residents. As people continue to stay home to help stop the spread of coronavirus, this additional step will help ensure households have access to vital energy, water, and telecommunication services.
Proclamation 20-23.2, Ratepayer Assistance and Preservation of Essential Services, is effective March 23rd-May 4th and expands upon previous proclamations to guarantee residential customers:
- Are not disconnected due to nonpayment (except at the request of the customer);
- Who had been disconnected due to nonpayment are reconnected, and;
- Are not charged fees for late payments or reconnection.
Although many utilities throughout the state had already taken these measures, this executive order ensures that all customers are protected and helps raise awareness and may offer peace of mind to struggling households.
In addition to instituting these vital protections that were called for by the NW Energy Coalition, Washington State Community Action Partnership, and The Energy Project, the proclamation also strongly encourages utility providers to adopt flexible repayment policies to ensure essential utility services remain available and affordable for the foreseeable future for economically vulnerable residents.
These protections could not be implemented without the hard work of utility providers and workers across the region and we are grateful for their continued dedication to meeting the needs of their customers, neighbors, and community members. Customers who are worried about their utility bills should proactively reach out to their utility to find out about energy assistance and bill payment programs that are available to them.