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Dominion’s past-due power bills from pandemic hit $116 million

Source: 
Daily Press

Dominion Energy customers’ unpaid electricity bills after a state-ordered moratorium on disconnections totaled $116.6 million as of June 30, the State Corporation reported Friday.

The commission has been monitoring utility bill collections since the pandemic hit and it issued its March 16 order suspending disconnections. Dominion had suspended disconnections four days before that.

The past due total for Dominion amounts to about 6% of its Virginia and North Carolina electric utility’s revenue for the three months ended June 30, according to the company’s filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. It is nearly equal to the quarter’s $133 million drop in revenue compared with last year.

“It’s substantially more than usual,” said Dominion spokesman Rayhan Daudani.

He said Dominion is ready to extend the moratorium on disconnections to October, if it gets a green light from regulators.

The commission’s moratorium expires at the end of the month, after its decision in June to extend the freeze in order to give the General Assembly time to consider possible action during its special session.

That session, called to deal with COVID-19 and its impact on the state budget, convenes next week.

The SCC said the moratorium was meant to protect customers, but added that an unlimited freeze is not sustainable unless the state acts to prevent costs from shifting to customers who are able to pay their bills.

Earlier this week, Dominion Energy said it is adding another $1 million to its EnergyShare program in Virginia to help customers deal with the pandemic’s impact, including funds to help cover their bills.

With the pandemic, Dominion increased the amount of that help for the summer cooling season from $300 to $600 per residential account.

Of that addition for EnergyShare, $500,000 is designated for small businesses, nonprofits and houses of worship and the rest for residential customers. The funds come from money the company gets from sources other than electric rates.

Dominion is also among Virginia utilities that has set up extended payment plans, the SCC said.

Daudani said Dominion believes its extended payment plans and EnergyShare program can help both the company and its customers cope into the autumn.

Other utilities serving Hampton Roads with past due bills include Virginia Gas, with a total of $6.9 million; Columbia Gas of Virginia, $6.4 million; A&N Electric Cooperative, $791,619 and Prince George Electric Cooperative, $288,411.

Dave Ress, 757-247-4535, dress@dailypress.com

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(c)2020 the Daily Press (Newport News, Va.)

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