For Customers of Municipally-Owned Electric, Gas and/or Water Utilities, or Electric Cooperatives
All electric, gas and water utilities not listed under the investor-owned utility section above are covered by Governor Cooper’s Executive Orders 124 and 142, which prevented utility shutoffs for customers of these utilities between March 31 and July 29, 2020. This includes, among others, municipal utilities (“munis”) and rural electric cooperatives (“co-ops”).
As with the NCUC moratorium, the executive orders put in place the following restrictions and requirements on these utilities (see here for an FAQ on the requirements):
- Customers are still responsible for paying off any accumulated bill debt as well as regular monthly bills.
- Utilities must have already “reasonably inform[ed] their customers” of the orders’ protections through print, email, text message, online, and/or direct phone calls.
Utilities must clearly, and at least ten days before any disconnection may take place, inform customers about their right to a repayment plan that provides the customer with the opportunity to make reasonable payment arrangements to pay off any debt accumulated between March 31 and July 29, 2020 over at least a six-month period.
- It is important to note that the required six-month repayment period ended on December 29, 2020. However, munis and co-ops should still be offering such repayment plans to assist their customers who continue to be affected by the COVID-19 crisis.
- Utilities cannot force customers to pay more of their debt in the first 1-2 months and less in the following months. Appropriate repayment plans would involve equal, fixed monthly charges or a pre-agreed fixed percentage of each monthly bill added to the current bill.
- No interest or late fee can be charged on any debt accrued during the moratorium period, nor on any missed or late payment occurring under a repayment plan.
- Utilities may not report a customer to a credit reporting agency if the customer is in compliance with an established payment plan and is current on their utility bills.
- Utilities must allow customers to move and transfer accounts to a new service location within their service area if they are in compliance with an established payment plan and are current on their bills.
- If a customer misses a payment under a repayment plan, the utility can then disconnect that customer.
- A utility may not respond to a missed payment on a repayment plan by making the entire amount of the repayment plan immediately payable.
- The executive orders did not prohibit disconnection, late fees, or interest for bills sent outside of the March 31 to July 29, 2020 time period.
Submitting A Complaint
If a utility does not follow the requirements of the executive orders concerning repayment plans, that utility is prohibited from disconnecting customers. If you feel your utility is in violation of any of the above requirements, contact the Attorney General’s Office by calling (877) 566-7226. If your issue is not resolved, submit a complaint by visiting https://ncdoj.gov/file-a-complaint/consumer-complaint/ on the Attorney General’s website.