Maryland companies could begin shutting off utilities next week despite economic hardship

As thousands struggle to pay utility bills in our region, next week Maryland companies can start shutting off services. 

Maryland, Virginia and D.C. each offered some relief from utility payments as COVID-19 restrictions created financial hardships for thousands of residents.

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Turn-offs can begin Sunday Nov. 15. On Oct. 1, utility companies were allowed to start issuing termination notices for customers behind on payment. According to Maryland’s Department of Human Services, affected customers will have 45 days from the date of a termination notice to seek a payment plan or energy assistance. 

The number of people behind on utility bills is staggering.

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Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman said Monday that 20,000 residents have not paid their water bills, up from 1,000 this time last year.

WSSC which provides water for Montgomery and Prince George’s counties said, as of last month, it had about 100,000 past due accounts totaling nearly $60 million.

READ MORE: Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan warns of major surge in coronavirus cases

Tonya Hughes, who lives in Montgomery County, said she’s among those who are struggling to pay utility bills after COVID-19 impacted her employment. 

“Right now with my water and utility bills, it’s basically trying to pay between both of them-calling both utility companies and asking them for an extension,” said Hughes.

She said she’s utilized assistance from several government agencies and charities, and recommends people struggling familiarize themselves with help available.

At the state level, DHS is offering energy assistance and providing links to county resources here.

Pittman shared this link to Anne Arundel County’s water bill relief program.

People struggling should also make sure to contact their utility companies.

WSSC is not shutting off water and continues to waive late fees, but tells customers to reach out if they are behind on their bills. 

Spokeswoman Lyn Riggins said payment plans are available and customers may be eligible for other programs to reduce costs. 
“What we don’t want customers to is push that bill aside and let it continue to mount,” Riggins said.

WSSC programs can be found here, and the best number for customers to call is 301-206-4001.

Information for Pepco customers can be found here.

D.C. and Virginia still have utility shut-off moratoriums in place.

For information on help with utilities in D.C., click here.

For help in Virginia, click here.