In an effort to accommodate customers during the COVID-19 outbreak, National Grid announced it would temporarily be suspending all collections-related activities, including service disconnections, through April to “lessen any financial hardship the COVID-19 pandemic may have on our customers.” The utility said regular billing for all customers would continue at this time.
“We recognize that certain customers may experience financial difficulty as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, whether they or a family member fall ill, are required to quarantine, or because their income is otherwise affected,” National Grid said in a statement. “We hope to alleviate our affected customers’ concerns about their electricity and natural gas service during this time.”
The utility, which powers many customers in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and New York, joins a string of other large companies providing accommodations at this time. Along with a number of power utilities throughout the country enacting similar suspensions as National Grid, Comcast announced free access to its wifi hotspots for everyone, including non-subscribers, along with unlimited data to customers at no extra charge and no service disconnections or late fees for those who cannot pay on time. Additionally, both AT&T and Verizon announced that they would suspend service disconnections and waive late fees.
The utility said it would re-evaluate the policy at the end of April. Regular billing will continue, which means service bills are not going away, rather National Grid has pledged to suspend disconnections and other collections-related activities for nonpayment.
In its statement, the utility said that it did not anticipate any disruptions to service at this time, stating the company had implemented “additional measures” that will allow it to continue to safely provide service to its customers. Going forward, before entering a customer’s home for maintenance or other services, the utility will ask a series of questions about the customer’s recent travel, exposure to anyone who has recently traveled or exposure to the virus for anyone in the home.
“If you are quarantined or sick and you call us for a service order or to report a natural gas leak or other emergency, we ask that you advise us about the conditions ahead of time,” National Grid said in its release. “Our agents will work together with you to determine best course of action regarding your service.”
National Grid customers are encouraged to make sure their email information is up to date and to enroll in an online account in order to more quickly communicate with the utility. To enroll in an online account, customers will need their account number, which can be found on their printed bill. Visit ngrid.com/updateemail to update email address, or visit ngrid.com/register to create an online account for the first time.