Due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, Puget Sound Energy (PSE) has stopped disconnecting service for non-payment, a spokeswoman said. The Bellevue-based company provides natural gas in Seattle and both gas and electric power elsewhere in the region.
“We understand the hardship local businesses and residents are facing and will not be disconnecting customers at this time,” PSE spokeswoman Janet Kim said.
The company also is suspending the accrual of late fees. PSE received approval from the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission for a waiver allowing the company to do that “while we continue to assess the impacts of coronavirus on our customers,” Kim said.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced last Tuesday that Seattle City Light and Seattle Public Utilities, which provide electric power and water in the city, would suspend shutoffs during the coronavirus crisis. A customer told The Seattle Times that PSE had shut off her gas service the week before, leaving her home without heat and hot water. PSE followed Seattle’s lead last Thursday, Kim said.
A post on the company’s website refers to PSE as “a provider of an essential service.” The company “will work with customers on options such as payment plans and choosing a new bill due date,” the post says. PSE also has launched an “energy assistance portal” to improve access to funds for low-income customers.
Bellevue, Redmond and Lakehaven Water and Sewer District, which serves several southern King County cities, all have, like Seattle, suspended water-service shutoffs, officials said.
Kent officials don’t want to shut off water service to customers during the crisis but are taking a “case-by-case” approach at the moment, spokeswoman Bailey Stober said.Renton officials didn’t immediately return requests for comment on their plans.