Coronavirus: Gas, electric, internet companies suspend disconnections

(WYDaily file/Courtesy of Pixabay)

Dominion Energy officials over the weekend said it’s “suspending service disconnections for nonpayment in response to COVID-19.”

“Our customers should not have to worry about losing service during this critical time,” Dominion spokeswoman Bonita Harris wrote in an emailed statement. “Therefore, Dominion Energy suspended all service disconnections for nonpayment earlier this week. We know the communities we serve rely on us to provide an essential service. We remain committed to providing reliable energy service 24-7.”

Cox Communications vowed to keep customers connected.

“We support the FCC’s efforts to keep America connected during the crisis,” said Pat Esser, president and chief executive officer of Cox Communications. “We don’t want our customers who are impacted to worry about losing their Cox services. Our focus is on taking steps to maintain services provided to customers and the general public while ensuring the safety of our employees and customers.”

For the next 60 days, Cox will not terminate service to any residential or small business customer that cannot pay their bills because of the virus for the next 60 days.

Cox also said it will waive late fees that are a result of the coronavirus and plans to open Cox WiFi hotspots to keep people connected.

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring filed a petition asking the SCC to stop any utility disconnections for nonpayment until the end of the state of emergency.

Virginia Natural Gas on Saturday said it has suspended service disconnections for non-payment, effective immediately for both residential and commercial customers.

Meanwhile nationwide, tech experts say the U.S. internet won’t have any trouble handling spikes in traffic from the millions of Americans who are now working from home to discourage the spread of the new coronavirus.

But they say connectivity could stumble for some remote home workers if everyone in their family tries to videoconference at once.

With kids home from school and colleges offering online classes, families who get their internet over cable services could have to ration the videoconferencing and settle for audio.

The core of the U.S. network is more than capable of handling the virus-related surge because it has evolved to handle Netflix, YouTube and other streaming services.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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