WV Utility Cutoffs to Resume; a “Catastrophic” Hardship for Some
Friday, July 3, 2020
CHARLESTON, W. Va. - A ban on West Virginia utility shutoffs during the pandemic has ended this week, leaving many customers scrambling to pay overdue bills to avoid disconnection.
In March, the West Virginia Public Service Commission had ordered electric, water and gas providers to halt service disconnections, as so many people faced COVID-19-related unemployment. And although the state continues to reopen, Seth DiStefano - policy outreach director with the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy - says the financial burden continues for many households.
"What we're going to have here is, you know, in addition to skyrocketing food insecurity, you know, in addition to people being worried about just simply putting food on the table," says DiStefano, "they very well may not have water to boil for dinner, or even wash their hands or do laundry."
Some organizations in the state, like Connecting Link in Morgantown and Fairmont, are providing emergency assistance for folks facing utility cutoffs. Visit 'Connecting Link' online for help.
DiStefano points out that thousands of people still rely on unemployment benefits to make ends meet. He calls the unemployment provision in the CARES Act the single biggest factor in keeping West Virginia's economy from completely collapsing.
But that portion, $600 a week, is set to expire at the end of the month.
"That $600 a week is keeping the rent paid, it's keeping utilities on," says DiStefano, "If that goes away, it is going to be catastrophic, I think. For working families, for low-income families, it will be bad."
He suggests people call their members of Congress to share their views on extending unemployment benefits or bolstering other support programs, like Medicaid and SNAP. But it's also important to make contact with any utility threatening a shutoff, as some are willing to work with customers who've fallen behind.
get more stories like this via email
Frustrated environmental and clean-energy advocates say after four long years of debate and compromise, regulators sent Arizona back to the starting …
When North Dakotans head out to cast their ballots later this year, there is a chance some will do so in a voting center and not a designated …
Health and Wellness
Washington state lawmakers are considering a measure to limit the growing cost of prescription drugs. Senate Bill 5532 would establish a …
The Maryland Air National Guard is considering a proposal to establish airspace where military planes would fly as low as 100 feet over the Pennsylvan…
The state of Illinois is allocating nearly a quarter-billion dollars to support new downstate transit and ports projects. Roughly half will go …
Health and Wellness
Advocates and faith groups are calling for more investments in harm reduction across the state, as new provisional data shows overdose deaths have …
More than 300 Kentucky farmers participated in the state's Farms to Food Banks program last year, and at a recent virtual rally, state officials said …
Farmers and ranchers in Montana and across the nation are calling on Congress to pass the American Beef Labeling Act. Most food is required to have …