SCC denies request from Northam to extend utility service cut-off moratorium


FILE – In this Sept. 1, 2020 file photo, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam listens to a reporter’s question during a press briefing inside the Patrick Henry Building in Richmond, Va. Northam and his wife have both tested positive for the coronoavirus. The governor’s office said in a statement Friday, Sept. 25, that Northam no symptoms while those of Pam Northam are mild.(Bob Brown/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP)

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The moratorium placed on the disconnection of utility services in Virginia is set to expire on Oct. 5. On Thursday, Gov. Ralph Northam wrote to the State Corporation Commission requesting that the moratorium be extended through Dec. 1 or until a General Assembly reconvened session, but the commission denied the governor’s request.

The suspension was previously extended in September to last until the beginning of October. The governor said the moratorium was put in place to protect public health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The General Assembly is still meeting for the special session and Northam’s letter to the SCC said the requested extension is intended to give the legislature time to address this issue. The governor’s budget proposal submitted in August addressed the moratorium, a repayment plan structure and 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,” Northam said.

In its response to the governor Thursday, the SCC cited its previous order that said it would extend the moratorium beyond Oct. 5.

“As discussed in the enclosed order of September 15, 2020 (which also closed the Commission’s official proceeding in this matter), the Commission-mandated moratorium began on March 16, 2020, and will not be extended beyond October 5, 2020,” John F. Dudley, the commission’s counsel, wrote.

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