Maryland utility companies can start shut-offs for nonpayment

This week Maryland utility companies can start shutting off services for people behind on payment.

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For months there's been a moratorium on shut-offs, but it has come to an end. D.C. and Virginia still have moratoriums in place.

Utility companies must provide notification to customers 45 days in advance that services will be terminated, and they must offer a payment plan.

Llyric Rowe, who lives with a roommate in Upper Marlboro, recently got a termination notice from Pepco.

"I thought it was absolutely crazy," said Rowe. "Especially with the times that are going on and everybody's just trying to get through together. We both were just completely shocked."

The notice her roommate received advised her to contact the company to establish an individualized payment plan to avoid a shut-off. Pepco customers can find more information here.

Utility companies are offering a variety of assistance options. WSSC, which provides water to Montgomery and Prince George's counties, is choosing not to shut off customers' water, but advising people to reach out if they are behind on payment.

WSSC says as of last month, it had about 100,000 past due accounts totaling nearly $60 million.

Financial hardship is impacting all parts of the D.C. region, including some people who never needed help before.

"I think the most important things that people need to know is one, you're not alone," said Howard Co. Executive Calvin Ball. "There's so many people struggling-your neighbors, your family and friends. And two, don't let pride make you hurt your family. There is help out there."

He recalled that during one of the county's first food giveaways, there was someone who circled the block for nearly 15 minutes before getting in line.

"They were ashamed. But this isn't the time to let shame get in the way of help," Ball said.

At the state level, Maryland Department of Human Services is offering energy assistance. You can apply here and find your county contact.

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

For help in Virginia, click here.