Gov. Cooper signs executive order prohibiting utilities from shutting off service

Gov. Roy Cooper addresses media during a briefing at the N.C. Emergency Operations Center. Photo via @NC_Governor Twitter.

RALEIGH – Gov. Roy Cooper issued an executive order on Tuesday afternoon prohibiting utility companies from shutting off service to electricity, gas, water, and wastewater for the next 60 days.

Telecommunications companies are strongly urged to follow same rules, and banks are asked not to charge overdraft or late fees in the next 60 days. Cooper said the order was intended to help families at the first of the month and may be having trouble paying bills.

“This action is particularly important since tomorrow is the first of the month, and I know that’s a date many families fear when they can’t make ends meet,” said Gov. Cooper. “These protections will help families stay in their homes and keep vital services like electricity, water, and communications going as we stay at home.”

The order directs utilities to give residential customers at least six months to pay outstanding bills and prohibits them from collecting fees, penalties or interest for late payment.

Cooper is also activating additional members of the National Guard, bringing the total to 180. They will deliver supplies and do engineering assessments.

Telecommunication companies that provide phone, cable and internet services are strongly urged to follow these same rules.

Governor Cooper was joined by Attorney General Josh Stein to announce the order and he thanked companies that have already voluntarily announced policies to prevent shutoffs, including Duke Energy, Dominion Energy, AT&T, and local electric co-ops, among many others. The Council of State concurred with the order today.

Read the full executive order here.