More utility customers falling behind on bills

Posted by Colby Rogers - email

WASHINGTON (AP) - Utilities in Virginia, Maryland and Washington have sent out millions of shut-off notices to customers in the past year and are turning off service more often.

In Virginia, Dominion Virginia Power shut off service to nearly 94,000 customers in 2008 - a 15 percent jump from the year before.

Recent data provided to Maryland regulators show that Baltimore Gas and Electric issued 1.9 million shut-off notices in 2008. Washington Gas issued more than 472,000 notices and Pepco issued more than 426,000. From 2006 to 2008, shut-offs rose 23 percent and late payments went up 44 percent statewide.

In D.C., data show one-quarter of Pepco customers who rely on electricity for heat were in arrears in 2008.

Regulators say tens of thousands of customers could lose service April 1, when a winter restriction on shut-offs ends.

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