As of June 2021, COVID-19 has claimed more than 1,100 lives in the District. In addition to the tens of thousands of residents who got sick from COVID-19 and struggled to recover, tens of thousands more lost jobs or saw their hours cut and struggled to make ends meet.
During the pandemic, all those staying at home to prevent the spread of the coronavirus relied on essential utility services—including water, gas, and electric—to keep them safe. And though DC residents are protected from utility shut-offs during the declared public health emergency, many fell behind on paying their bills and will need help even after the emergency ends.
To give residents a chance to get back on their feet—and to help prevent utility shut-offs after the end of the official public health emergency—the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) advocated for the expansion of utility assistance programs to more District residents.
OAG supported a petition by the Office of the People’s Counsel asking the Public Service Commission (PSC) to help ratepayers. When the PSC issued an order expanding utility discount programs to more middle-income households, OAG worked with the Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) and filed a motion to make those programs available to an even larger number of District residents.
On May 27, 2020, the PSC granted OAG’s motion to make more DC households eligible for discounts on their utility bills and for utility bill debt forgiveness. Now, about 50,000 additional households will be eligible for discounts of:
- An average of about to $475 per year on electric bills.
- About 50% off gas bills during the winter season.
- Significant discounts (up to about $400 annually) on water and sewer bills.
These households will also qualify for Pepco’s Arrearage Management Program, which allows those with electricity bill debt to reduce or eliminate their outstanding balances simply by paying their current (discounted) electricity bills. Washington Gas will be rolling out a similar program in the coming weeks for its customers who are in arrears to catch up on their gas bills.
For more information and to apply for these utility assistance programs, see DOEE’s website.
See the chart below to find out if you may qualify for discounts or debt forgiveness:
Income Eligibility for Utility Discounts
|Household Size||Current Maximum Annual Income (As of 5/27/21)||Old Maximum Annual Income (Prior to PSC Order)|