Thursday, September 24, 2020
Sept. 24, 2020

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Inslee extends COVID-19 moratorium on utility late fees, shutoffs


Washington residents unable to pay utility bills won’t need to worry about losing service through Oct. 15, according to a July 31 proclamation from Gov. Jay Inslee.

Inslee extended his proclamation barring energy, telecommunications and water providers from shutting off access or refusing to reinstate service due to non-payment. Additionally, the order prohibits such utility providers from charging late fees.

The order is intended to protect vulnerable populations from losing access to essential services amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. Inslee signed a similar order July 24, extending the prohibition of tenant evictions until Oct. 15.

Inslee has extended the proclamation several times since the state of emergency first began in March, and it will remain in effect until Oct. 15 or the end of the state of the emergency.

The city of Bellingham has committed to waiving late fees and suspending water shutoffs in accordance with the updated order, said finance director Andy Asbjornsen in an emailed statement. The city of Ferndale is also suspending late fees and shutoffs for the June 30 billing cycle, according to a statement from communications officer Riley Sweeney.

The order defers bills so residents are still encouraged by city officials to pay their bills as much as they can.