Dominion Energy Ohio expands financial assistance options due to COVID-19 unemployment surge

Published on June 23, 2020 by Chris Galford

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With unemployment figures still rising and the COVID-19 pandemic continuing without relief, Dominion Energy Ohio announced this week that it would increase support to programs for customers in need, provide payment flexibility and waive both deposit fees and late fees.

The greater push for payment flexibility continues trends started in March when Dominion Energy voluntarily suspended disconnections for late payments. While the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) has since requested utilities offer plans for resumption of normal credit procedures, Dominion’s will be gradual, spread over months. Work toward that normalcy will resume after Aug. 3.

“With the surge in unemployment claims due to COVID-19 we know more customers may qualify for utility assistance this year, and we want you to know we have programs and payment options to help you move forward,” said Jim Eck, vice president & general manager of Ohio & West Virginia Distribution. “If you’re having trouble paying your bill, we’re here to help you find the best option for your unique situation.”

Among the options presented are short-term payment extensions and long-term payment plans for residential and commercial customers. Those applicable could benefit from the Budget Plus payment plan, which allows customers to pay off past due amounts over the course of a year. Originally, the maximum had been set to nine months. Deposit requirements for that and all other repayment plans have been waived, coupled with a halt on late fees.

Dominion has also offered more direct assistance through the EnergyShare program. Administered by the Salvation Army, the program is funded with company contributions and donations. With that in mind, Dominion has added another $150,000 to its coffers, beyond its $250,000 annual contribution.

While this will only benefit Dominion Energy Ohio residential customers, those who qualify could gain up to $500 in assistance. Eligible households now include customers up to 200 percent of federal poverty guidelines, up from a previous limit of 150 percent. Households in this position also have access to Ohio’s Income Payment Plan Plus, which allows them to maintain natural gas service at a cost based on either 6 percent of their total monthly household income or $10, whichever amount is greater.