Utility bills coming due after shutoff moratorium ends in North Carolina

The moratorium on utility shutoffs in North Carolina have come to an end, and customers will have to start paying up on bills some have had to let slide due to economic hardships from the COVID-19 pandemic.

But Dominion Power will have to wait until September before they can cut off the lights, and their customers will get a full year to pay off bills that fell behind since March.

Governor Roy Cooper’s executive orders expired on July 30 that prohibited all companies from cutting off utilities and collecting late fees since March 31.

The State Utilities Commission estimates power, water and gas companies in North Carolina are owed almost $258 million dollars from delinquent customers, including 1.37 million residential accounts.

The municipal-run water and power companies, as well as electric membership cooperatives such as Cape Hatteras and Tideland EMC, will only have to provide payment plans for those behind on their bills over a six months period.

In a surprise order issued by the State Utilities Commission just hours before the moratorium expired, Dominion Power and Duke Energy will have to give customers until September 1 before they can cut power. And payment plans to those companies will have to be stretched over 12 months.

The commission’s reasoning is that city- and county-run companies are in worse financial peril than the for-profit electricity providers.

Meanwhile, Governor Cooper said earlier this month he will announce a plan soon that would use federal coronavirus relief funds to make direct payments to companies to cover the bills of those most in need.

This story originally appeared on OBXToday.com. Read More local stories here.