VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — A utility company wants to help its customers during the coronavirus pandemic
“We don’t want any of our customers to worry about losing their electric service just because they cannot pay their bill right now,” explained Dominion Energy Communication Specialist Audrey Cannon
Dominion Energy expanded its EnergyShare program. Dominion Energy partnered with the Virginia Chamber of Commerce Foundation and are offering up to $500,000 to help provide energy bill relief for small businesses, nonprofits, and houses of worship. Businesses can apply for up to $1,000 in relief for unpaid electric bills.
“Many small businesses have been struggling, as you know many have shut down. Some of them have very few employees and some are doing the best they can to stay afloat,” explained Olga Torres Baker, who is with Virginia Beach Minority Business Council. She said many businesses are struggling.
“I know many businesses have tried to apply for different programs and some have been approved and some haven’t. A little bit here and a little bit there helps,” she said.
Businesses need to act fast. The Small Business Relief Fund runs out after $500,000. Dominion Energy officials are hoping to help as many business owners as possible.
For residential customers, bills also didn’t stop coming in the mail, despite the coronavirus pandemic. Cannon said officials are not currently disconnecting service for nonpayment, they are encouraging customers to pay their bill to help avoid a larger balance later.
“We can help you get on a payment plan that’s right for you. We can help you figure out the right situation to help you get through the pandemic,” she said. “We are not disconnecting any of our customers for non-payment. If they can’t pay their bill, we will not shut off your power until at least October 14.”
Dominion Energy offers both short-term payment extensions and long-term payment plans to help manage your balance. There are no fees associated with these.
They are also offering customers up to 12 months, starting June 15, to pay down past due balances. No minimum down payment is required.
Bryan Stephens, the CEO and president of the Hampton Roads Chamber, said the program would help underpin business sustainability at a time some have had to make tough choices.
“The Hampton Roads Chamber applauds Dominion Energy and partners in expanding and funding the EnergyShare program. Federal assistance money, through the Payroll Protection Program (P3), has been exhausted and the timeframe has ended," he said.
"There are no additional funds for help with utilities, rent, and basic necessities for proper operation to keep a business open," he explained. "The idea of being able to apply for support for their energy bills through the EnergyShare is timely and needed to keep businesses viable.”