‘Deferral, not a waiver’: Cooper says utilities won’t be shut off for non-payment, but money will still be owed down the line

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — As the coronavirus continues to spread, utility companies have been ordered not to shut off your service, but there are some bills that still need to be paid.

The bottom line here in North Carolina is that Governor Roy Cooper is trying to help by preventing electric or water shutoffs for the next two months, but it’s important to note that this isn’t a free ride, utility companies are going to want that money eventually.

Cooper hopes to ease the burden on those without money by deferring utility payments for the next 60 days.

Your power, water, and gas won’t be shutoff for non-payment, but keep in mind, utility companies are businesses too.

“It’s just a deferral. It’s not a waiver of that payment,” said Tom Bartholomy from the Better Business Bureau.

That means 60 days from now, if you haven’t paid your bills, you could receive one large bill in the mail.

“We are anticipating they are willing to work with people, put them on a payment plan. Pay this past due balance out over the rest of the year type of thing. We have seen that happen before during natural disasters,” said Bartholomy.

The good news, is part of Govenor Cooper’s executive order gives you six months to pay any late bills.

Over that time, utility companies cannot collect any penalties or interest for late payments. Pretty much everyone will receive direct deposit stimulus money over the next few weeks. If you’re in a bind, experts encourage you to use that money towards bills..

“Getting this unanticipated money deposited into your account so prioritize what’s the most important to you. Is it going to be keeping the lights on, is it food for your family, those should be the priorities that are top of mind for folks,” said Bartholomy.

The executive order did not require, but strongly encouraged cell phone companies and internet providers to also defer payments.

Keep in mind that every company is different. Don’t assume that your payments are being deferred. When in doubt, call your provider directly and explain your situation.
 

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