OLYMPIA — The state Utilities and Transportation Commission has extended protections for electric and natural gas customers struggling to pay their bills due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
A previous order issued last April by Gov. Jay Inslee that prevented investor-owned energy utilities from disconnecting customers was set to expire on April 30, but has been extended to July 31, the state regulatory agency announced Tuesday.
In addition, utilities will continue to waive late fees and deposits through Jan. 27, 2022.
The order allows utilities to begin sending notices to customers in June, reminding them that disconnections will resume, and supplying information about payment options and customer assistance programs.
As of December 2020, nearly 277,000 of the state’s residential electric and natural gas customers had past due balances totaling $79.1 million, a 65% increase from 2019. Utilities project that this debt will continue to increase in 2021.