Gov. Jay Inslee has issued an extension of the utility moratorium proclamation, which will now expire on Sept. 30. A news release from the Governor’s Office stated this will be the final extension of the proclamation, and the extension will align with the end date of the tenancy preservation bridge in order to give Washingtonians struggling with housing payments time to prepare and seek assistance before both proclamations expire.
“Utilities and housing are inextricably linked,” Inslee said. “Our priority is to keep Washingtonians safe and housed, and give them a glide path to long-term stability.”
On Feb. 29, 2020, the governor’s office issued Proclamation 20-05, proclaiming a State of Emergency for all counties throughout Washington State of as a result of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States and confirmed person-to-person spread of COVID-19 in Washington State.
The Tenancy Preservation, and Ratepayer Assistance and Preservation of Essential Services proclamations were established to help those struggling with rent and utilities during that time.
The Governor’s Office will work closely with utilities on how they can continue to support customers once the moratorium expires. Utilities are encouraged to:
Continue to make good faith efforts to reach customers with past-due accounts, including partnering with community organizations, and provide information about their various assistance options.
Help customers identify utility, local, state and federal financial assistance programs they may be eligible for.
Offer extended payment plans of 12 months or longer.
Waive disconnection, reconnection, site visit and late fees accrued during the disconnection moratorium, if customers sign up for payment assistance.
Refrain from reporting overdue accounts to credit bureaus or placing liens on customers with overdue accounts for at least 180 days.
In addition to outreach from utilities, customers should contact their utility to learn about programs and financial resources that can help with unpaid utility bills and prevent disconnections. Residents with past-due energy and water balances are encouraged to call their utility providers as soon as possible to set up a payment or assistant plan. Customers can look up their utility information on the Department of Commerce website at commerce.wa.gov or by calling 211.