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Utility disconnections can resume this week in Washington state

Although the state's eviction moratorium was extended through October, the ban on utility disconnections ends Sept. 30.

LACEY, Wash. — The statewide ban on disconnecting utility services expires Thursday, Sept. 30, despite the state’s eviction moratorium bridge being extended through October.

Those living in Seattle will not be affected by the lifting ban on utility disconnections because Mayor Jenny Durkan made it a part of her eviction moratorium extension, which now runs through mid-January.

Those not living in Seattle who owe money on their utility bills as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic can still act to stop disconnections.

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The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) outlined multiple ways utility customers can stop disconnections and apply for financial assistance.

For customers of PacifiCorp, Puget Sound Energy, Avista, Cascade Natural Gas and Northwest Natural Gas, the UTC said there is more than $40 million in relief programs.

These funds can also be paired with any federal Low Income Home Energy Assistant Program or other existing bill assistance programs, according to UTC.

Also, COVID-19 financial assistance for things like rent and utilities is being offered through the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Customers who face disconnection should contact their utility companies to set up a payment plan. UTC regulations require energy and water utilities to offer long-term payment plans for up to a year and a half. Utilities can also not charge reconnection fees or late fees until March 29, 2022.  

The state’s utility disconnection moratorium is ending Thursday after being in place for nearly 18 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In mid-September, the state estimated that more than half a million people were overdue on utility payments.