Thousands of Families Behind on Utility Payments During COVID-19 Pandemic

News4 has compiled a list of resources for those struggling to pay their bills

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Seven months into the pandemic, we’re getting a clearer picture of just how many people are falling behind on their bills. Most water, gas and electric providers are reporting a sharp increase in the number of accounts with outstanding balances. The companies are urging customers to contact them immediately to set up payment plans or apply for other assistance.

There is a moratorium on utility shutoffs in Washington, D.C., until 15 days after the public health emergency, which currently extends through the end of the year. Virginia’s moratorium ended Oct. 5, but state lawmakers passed legislation that would extend it. That bill is awaiting the governor’s signature. Maryland’s moratorium ends Nov. 15, and utility companies were allowed to start sending shutoff notices to customers on Oct. 1.

News4 contacted the utility providers below for information on the number of past due accounts and resources for those who can’t pay their full bill. Their responses are below.


We don’t have a March to October 2020 breakdown, but we do have a year-to-year comparison through August.  For our residential customers who are 30 days or more past due:

  • Aug 2019: ~124K
  • Aug 2020: ~160K

These numbers are just for residential customers, and the amount of the arrears has increased from $40M to $80M during that timeframe.  


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BGE has had a moratorium on service disconnects and late fees since March, but per the Maryland PSC directive, this moratorium will end on November 15. Throughout the moratorium period, BGE reached out extensively via phone calls, letters, postcards, emails, social media, and targeted advertising to customers who had fallen behind in their payments and to limited-income customers who were likely eligible for energy assistance.

Also please keep in mind:

  • Disconnecting service is always a last resort.
  • If customers reach out to us for help, it is very unlikely that they would be turned off.
  • If customers respond to our repeated attempt to reach them to discuss their bill, it is very unlikely that they would be turned off.
  • Our hope is that no customer experiences a service disconnection and there are many processes and programs in place to help our customers through this difficult time.
  • Customers can call BGE at 1-800-685-0123.


Customers should connect with us right away to ensure they remain in service, some of the programs we have in place for customers in arrears include:

  • No interest payment arrangements for up to 24 months
  • Payments as low as $10/month (reduced from $40)
  • No down payment if you enter into a security deposit
  • Automatic 55-day extension for customers who apply for energy assistance
  • Customers who take advantage of these options will very likely remain in service.
  • BGE will also connect customers to agency energy assistance funds to which BGE has increased contributions. Since the pandemic began, BGE — with the help of Constellation and its parent company Exelon Corp. — has committed over $1 million to relief organizations and small businesses, provided nearly 2,000 meals to frontline workers and made an additional $1.5 million donation to the fuel fund of Maryland to help customers with their energy and gas bills, on top of an existing $2.6 million commitment.

DC Water

DC Water has suspended shutoffs and waived late fees. The utility is also allowing a “no down payment” payment arrangement and expanded assistance to residents by approving $3 million for residential customers and $7 million for multi-family programs in development.

Assistance has increased by 93 percent since COVID.

We have assisted 6,673 customers this year with a value of $2.7 million, nearly double what we did in 2019.

And we have more than $10 million in accounts over 30 days delinquent.

Dominion Energy

We are not disconnecting customers at this time. The General Assembly has passed and sent to the governor language that would extend the moratorium and give all customers a clean slate for any past due bills more than 30 days overdue as of September 30.

We remain committed to helping our customers through this pandemic and support efforts in the Virginia General Assembly budget conference report on both forgiving past due bills and preventing customers from being disconnected for nonpayment.

From the start of the pandemic we have worked hard to take care of our customers. We suspended disconnects back in March prior to the SCC taking action. Please click here for more info.

Fairfax Water

Fairfax Water has approximately 8,047 households with a past due account. This is 2.8% of total accounts. The dollar amount currently owed is $1.8 million, compared to just $300,000 at the same time last year.

We have voluntarily suspended shutoffs for non-payment since mid-March.


If a customer is experiencing financial circumstances that have hindered their ability to make a payment, we ask them to please contact our offices at 703-698-5800.  We will happily work with customers to set up payment arrangements to help avoid a larger balance later. There are also several local community organizations and agencies that can assist customers with utility bill payments. See the list here.


We did not contact NOVEC, but you can find resources at the link above.


In DC, 81,500 households are currently in arrears, compared to 75,700 same time last year. In Maryland currently, 132,600 are in arrears compared to 130,400 the same time last year. In DC the average balance is around $363.50 ($272 at this time last year). And, in Maryland, the average balance is $466.90 ($286.40 at this time last year).

We are currently not disconnecting service for customers and will do everything possible to help customers before any disconnection occurs. 


Pepco Customer Care will work with customers who may have difficulty paying their energy bill. The company offers payment options, like Budget Billing, which averages payments over a 12-month period to help customers manage their monthly energy bill, or flexible payment arrangements that offer individually tailored payment installment plans. Contact Pepco at 202-833-7500 to review payment options. We also work with our state, federal, and nonprofit partners to connect our customers with grants and programs like LIHEAP, the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program. In Maryland, we are extending payment arrangements for a minimum of 12 months for residential customers and for a minimum of 24 months for extension of limited-income residential customers that are Office of Home Energy Programs-certified.

In short, our goal is simple and that is to keep our customers connected and to support our communities. We work with all customers on payment options and disconnection is the absolute last step

More customer information:

  • We also work with our state, federal, and nonprofit partners to connect our customers with grants and programs like LIHEAP, the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program.
    • In Washington D.C., up to $1,800 in grant support per customer, depending on a household’s income size, type of fuel, and type of dwelling, with no pay back required.
      • District residents can apply for assistance online through the Department of Energy and the Environment website at
    • The Utility Discount Program (UDP) assists low-income District residents to reduce their utility costs.  Eligible customers may receive a discount of up to $475 per year on their electric bill ($300 per year if non-electric heat).  District residents can visit the Department of Energy and the Environment website at to apply online.
    • The Greater Washington Urban League provides up to $500 in assistance to eligible customers facing disconnection.  Customers can call 202-265-8200 or visit
    • Maryland residents can apply for LIHEAP energy assistance through the Department of Human Services website by calling the Office of Home Energy Programs at 1-800-332-6347. Customers are awarded grants based on a household’s income, size and type of fuel, with no pay back required
      • Up to $1,000 in grant support per customer is available, depending on a household’s income, size and type of fuel, with no pay back required.
    • Additional assistance for customers in Maryland is available from the Maryland Office of Home Energy Programs through the Electric Universal Service Program (EUSP), the Utility Service Protection Plan (USPP) and the Arrearage Retirement Assistance Program (ARA). To apply for any of these programs, customers can contact the Office of Home Energy Programs in their area, call 1-800-332-6347 or visit

o   Interfaith Works provides emergency assistance to income eligible customers in Montgomery County, Maryland.  Customers can call 301-762-8682.

  1. With the Gift of Energy, anyone can make a payment towards a friend or family member’s energy bill. A Gift of Energy will appear on the recipient’s bill as a credit to their account. The provider can give any amount to any customer they choose.
  2. Customers who have the ability to do so can support the Good Neighbor Energy Fund by adding exactly $1 to your next bill payment. We will match your donation and those funds will go to someone in need of energy assistance.
  3. Through our Budget Billing program, customers can avoid seasonal peaks in their energy bills by dividing their payments evenly over the course of the entire year. This plan makes it easier for customers to budget and pay their bill each month, because they will know their regular payment amount.
  4. We offer a variety of individually tailored payment arrangements aimed at bringing the account up to date over a mutually agreeable period of time.
  5. For customers whose main source of household income is from government or other low-income entitlement programs, they may qualify for a regular extension of their bill due date without incurring a late charge.
  6. Customers who wish to learn more or take advantage of these important programs can visit or call 1-877-PEPCO-62.

Prince William County Service Authority

We did not receive a response from PWCSA, but you can find resources at the link above.


We did not contact SMECO, but you can find resources at the link above.

Washington Gas

Washington Gas has seen an approximate 26 percent increase in Maryland customers behind on their bills two months or more compared to last October. The Public Service Commission in Maryland has recently lifted its order banning late fees in Maryland as of October 1 so we are beginning to charge late fees for Maryland customers.   

Throughout the pandemic, we have been working closely with our customers to connect them with energy assistance programs and to set our customers up with payment plans via our Washington Gas Cares program. We recognize the challenge that the pandemic has presented to customers and that is why we have been proactively reaching out to our customers to facilitate access our existing customer programs and developed new initiatives to provide further assistance.


Customers can apply for assistance through programs at this link.

Through our Gift of Warmth program, customers can also pay a gas bill for their fellow customers through donations.

Note that customers can make a payment or payment arrangements using our self-service online option by visiting this link. 

The payment plans include:  

∙           Automated Payment Plan

∙           Payment Extension Plan

∙           Deferred Payment Plan

∙           Budget Plan

∙           eBill Automated-payment Plan

Customers may also reach us at 844-WASHGAS to make arrangements.

WSSC Water

As of October 16, 2020, there was $58.4 million in past due accounts (nearly 95,000 accounts) compared to $32.1 million (approximately 72,000 accounts) on October 16, 2019. WSSC Water has invested millions into affordability programs to assist customers struggling to pay their water and sewer bill and is urging customers to contact the utility to establish convenient payment plans.

Customers with past due accounts are receiving letters and automated phone calls encouraging them to contact WSSC Water to set up a payment plan. Customers with higher balances are also receiving proactive phone calls to help them better understand the status of their account. 


Because of the pandemic’s economic impact, WSSC Water included $3.2 million in their current Fiscal Year 2021 budget - a $324,000 increase from last fiscal year’s budget - to help more customers struggling to pay their water and sewer bills. To learn more about WSSC Water’s customer assistance programs, visit the assistance page. Eligibility requirements do apply. At the onset of this pandemic, WSSC Water took proactive steps to help customers and protect public health by suspending all water service shutoffs and waiving late fees. These customer assistance measures continue.

Please visit for more information. Customer Service Advisors are available 7:30 a.m.–7:00 p.m., Monday–Friday, and can be reached at 301-206-4001 or by email at

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