Utilities are not allowed to disconnect service for nonpayment or charge late fees, penalties, interest, or reconnection fees for residential service in North Carolina for the next 60 days, under an executive order that Gov. Roy Cooper signed on Tuesday, March 31, 2020.
It is the latest in a slew of changes to daily lives due to the new coronavirus and its effect on society throughout the world.
Before the order expires, he said, “We will be able to reevaluate where we are in the arc of this pandemic.”
The order applies to all utilities that provide electrical, natural gas, water or wastewater service to residences across the state.
Once the order is lifted, utilities will allow people to take up to six months to pay off those bills without penalty.
Although the requirements for utilities aren’t optional, much of the executive order is a request but not a mandate:
- It asks telecommunications and internet companies to adopt the same practices.
- The order encourages utility companies to reconnect any service that had been disconnected for nonpayment and waive all reconnection fees and penalties.
- The order asks banks and financial companies to waive overdraft fees and ATM fees, and increase credit limits and ATM daily withdrawal limits. In 2017, large banks made more than $11.45 billion off overdraft or insufficient funds fees alone, according to the Center for Responsible Lending.
- The order also asks mortgage servicers to postpone loan payments for those unable to pay for at least 180 days, waive late fees and postpone foreclosures and evictions for at least 90 days.
While property owners can still file eviction proceedings remotely, there have been no hearings for several weeks as the state’s courthouses have closed for all but essential business.
“There should be no new eviction proceedings until the (earlier) orders expire,” the new order says. That would be, at the earliest, April 17, 2020 unless extended by Chief Justice Cheri Beasley.