As the coronavirus strikes, utilities move to protect customers

By Noah Solomon, Research Manager –

The coronavirus, also known by its scientific designation COVID-19, has killed or hospitalized thousands across the globe, especially among those over 60.

What’s more, the virus has shocked markets, sent stocks tumbling, forced business closures and limits on air travel, and will likely see the majority of the world living and working entirely at home for weeks to come. The impact of this global pandemic and the panic it brings cannot be overstated, and it is causing tremendous stress for people across the globe.

One thing consumers in the U.S. and Canada likely need not be worried about, however, is whether utilities will keep the lights on. Many American and Canadian utilities have been proactive about letting their customers know they are suspending shutoffs for non-payment for the foreseeable future as well as highlighting information on payment assistance and programs including budget billing, payment arrangements and prepay. At a time when many are concerned for their livelihoods and health, this move from utilities is welcome and helps customers by giving them one less thing they must be concerned about.

Internally, utilities are also increasingly joining other businesses in the United States, Canada and elsewhere in allowing and encouraging their work forces to work from home when able, keeping them as safe and healthy as possible as they continue their important work of keeping gas, power and water accessible to customers in North America.

We at Chartwell will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and its effects on utilities and their customers, and wish everyone a safe next few weeks.