Utilities Suspend Disconnections in Response to COVID-19

(UNDATED) – Some utility and service companies will suspend disconnections due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Duke Energy, Vectren Energy Services, and at least 69 U.S. cable and telecommunications companies have pledged to not cut off broadband or telephone service for the next 60 days to any customers — even if they’re unable to pay their bills.

Amid the quickly spreading move toward “social distancing” in recent days, companies including ComcastAT&TVerizon, have signed on to the FCC’s “Keep Americans Connected Pledge.”

That specifies that broadband and telephone providers will “not terminate service to any residential or small business customers because of their inability to pay their bills due to the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

In addition, the companies promise to waive any late fees that any residential or small business customers incur “because of their economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic.”

The FCC initiative also calls on operators to open their Wi-Fi hotspots to the general public for free.

“As the coronavirus outbreak spreads and causes a series of disruptions to the economic, educational, medical, and civic life of our country, it is imperative that Americans stay connected,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement issued Friday. “That’s why I’m asking all broadband and telephone service providers to take the Keep Americans Connected Pledge. I don’t want any American consumers experiencing hardships because of the pandemic to lose connectivity.”

Separately from the FCC’s pledge, Comcast has announced it will provide free broadband for low-income families and for the next 60 days.

Duke Energy will not disconnect any customer’s service for non-payment, in order to give customers experiencing financial hardship extra time to make payments. The company will continue to read meters and send bills. Customers should pay what they can to avoid building up a large balance that will be harder to pay off later.

Vectren in response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) has activated its Pandemic Preparedness Plan to help ensure the safe, reliable delivery of energy and service to homes and businesses.

They are working closely with regulatory, government and emergency management organizations across its service territory. They support their customers who may need payment assistance, arrangements or extensions and have temporarily suspended natural gas service disconnections for nonpayment.

More information on the specifics is available at each service provider’s website.

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