By Associated Press - Tuesday, August 18, 2020

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - A moratorium on service shutoffs for customers of North Carolina’s large for-profit utilities, designed to assist them during the coronavirus pandemic, is set to expire at the end of the month.

The News & Observer of Raleigh reports that the ban issued by North Carolina’s Utilities Commission expires on Sept. 1.

The commission, however, has directed utilities it regulates - Duke Energy and Dominion Energy among them - to allow customers at least 12 months to repay overdue bills. That’s double a previous grace period.

Gov. Roy Cooper had issued an order prohibiting shutoffs for all residential customers behind on their bills - including municipal and co-op customers - but that expired in late July. The commission, however, extended a prohibition another month to utilities it scrutinizes.

The commission reported last month that over 1.3 million residential customers have avoided shutoffs because of the moratorium. As of June 30, state utilities said they were owed $257 million in past-due bills.

Duke Energy is urging customers to pay their bills if they’re behind and giving them an extra 30 days to pay overdue bills.

The company said customers who need more time to pay overdue bills can establish flexible payment plans without a down payment. Duke’s late fees also continue to be waived.

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