Virginia currently has among the weakest utility disconnection protections for customers of any state in the south and southeast. North Carolina, Kentucky, West Virginia, Maryland, Georgia, Mississippi, and Alabama each offer more protection for low-income customers by prohibiting utility disconnection during certain months, during extreme weather, or within specified temperature ranges. Unlike VA, these states also offer payment plans to help financially-strapped customers while they retain access to their essential services.
Many of our neighbors most impacted by states of emergency and the increasingly worsening effects of climate change like extreme weather are from communities of color and low-income families. It is important to ensure resilience for families financially burdened by utility bills in times of crisis.
Many faith communities in Virginia offer social services to help pay bills like food, rent, and utility bills (water, electricity, and gas) for families in need and offer life-saving support. VAIPL and partner organizations pushed for policies that give our most vulnerable households much-needed protections against utility shutoffs. You can learn about the policies we pursued in the video and the fact sheet below!
Providing additional support for community members like the elderly, children, and those who have medical conditions and/or disabilities is urgently needed. Expanding utility disconnection protections for our neighbors at higher risk of being affected by extreme weather events helps to limit disconnections and ensure access to those who need gas, electric, and water services the most. As people of faith, in January 2022, over 75 faith communities and households in Virginia stood in solidarity with the many vulnerable Virginians who are living in danger of utility disconnections in the winter.
- Read POWERLESS IN THE PANDEMIC: After Bailouts, Electric Utilities Chose Profits Over People Report by Center for Biological Diversity and BailoutWatch
- Read “A ‘Tsunami of Shutoffs’: 20 Million US Homes Are Behind on Energy Bills: Surging electricity prices spur worst-ever crisis in late utility payments,” a Bloomberg article by Will Wade and Mark Chediak