McDuffie’s Legislative Language Requiring Utilities Enter into Payment Plans with Residents Included in Latest COVID-19 Response Bill

Councilmember Kenyan R. McDuffie’s Legislative Language Requiring Utilities Enter into Payment Plans with Residents Included in Latest COVID-19 Response Bill

Payment programs are required to be offered during the public health emergency and a period after that, depending on the utility

Washington, DC – Today, the Council of the District of Columbia unanimously passed the latest in a series of bills in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency, the Coronavirus Support Emergency Amendment Act of 2020 and Coronavirus Support Temporary Amendment Act of 2020. Councilmember Kenyan R. McDuffie, Chair Pro Tempore and Chair of the Council Committee on Business and Economic Development, led the Council’s efforts to require utility providers to offer a utility payment program for customers unable to pay their utility bills due to the public health emergency.

Details of the provision, Section 308:

  • Gas, water, and electric utilities are required to offer a payment program for six months after the end of the public health emergency.
  • Protections extend 60 days after the end of the public health emergency for cable operators or telecommunications service providers not regulated by the DC Public Service Commission.
  • If utility service is currently disconnected, the provision requires reconnection of some utilities during the public health emergency.
  • The payment plans must be for at least one year unless the customer requests a shorter timeframe.

Upon passage of the legislation, Councilmember McDuffie said:

Since the first emergency COVID-19 bills, I have been working to include this language to protect utility customers. While prohibitions on shutoffs have been in place for some time and some utilities are already offering some payment plans, I am pleased that the District has now required all utility providers to provide payment plans.

The fact is that many customers who have avoided disconnection under emergency protections would have been facing an unmanageable lump sum payment at the end of the public health emergency.

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