Prayer #138: For Local Utilities and Their Customers During the COVID-19 Outbreak
When the COVID-19 virus outbreak began in mid-March in the United States, many state governments, including North Carolina, issued executive orders banning the disconnection of utility service for non-payment of bills, as a relief measure for those out of work because of the Coronavirus restrictions. In many places, these bans have now just expired or will do so this month. During these past months, utilities, many of them small, have been severely impacted by reduced bill payments. In North Carolina, for instance, utility payment collection was prevented until July 29. The fragile economic state of local utilities here in our state has made national news.
Between April 1 and the end of June, there was a total of $218 million of late or missed utility payments in North Carolina. This is nearly double the amount from last year. These losses have had to be absorbed either by the utility companies themselves or, in cases where they are municipality-owned, by the town or the city. Many smaller utilities are on the brink of insolvency.
A number of utility customers have also been greatly affected during the COVID period, as their economic situation has caused them to fall way behind in paying their utility bills. With the ending of the ban on utility shutdowns, they are now facing, in some cases, the payment of large bills. In some of North Carolina's smaller towns, for example, many are behind in their utility bills. In Red Springs, NC, for example, in Robeson County, nearly 40% of the residents were in arrears in July.
Pray for these smaller utilities as they struggle to survive during the COVID-19 crisis. Pray for financial relief as collection for past due bills resumes. Pray also for the customers who are behind in their payments. Pray that a payment schedule over six months or so could be instituted so that they could recover. Pray for unemployment to continue to fall, so that more and more people can resume working.
My thanks to Jennifer Haynie for suggesting this topic for prayer.
Ps. 118:5: "Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free. "