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$60 million set aside for utility relief

Gov. Ralph Northam recently announced a new allocation of $60 million in funding from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Recovery, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to support municipal utility relief efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Combined with the governor’s proposed budget amendment to provide $60 million for jurisdictional utilities, the commonwealth is directing a total of $120 million for residential and non-residential utility customers impacted by the ongoing public health crisis.

“These are challenging times for Virginia families and businesses, and we remain committed to helping them keep the electricity on and the water running,” Northam said. “This program will provide critical financial relief to those struggling to pay their utility bills and ensure that Virginians can remain safely in their homes with access to basic utilities as we continue our fight against COVID-19.”

The $60 million municipal utility relief program will be administered by the Department of Housing and Community Development and the Department of Accounts. The program will allow counties and cities to apply to set-up smaller, locally administered relief programs, which will support customers’ bill payments and assist with outstanding debt. On Nov. 5, Northam proposed an amendment to the biennial budget that would match the $60 million in CARES Act funding for municipal utilities with $60 million for jurisdictional utilities, which are utilities overseen by the State Corporation Commission.