Utilities will not be disconnected in Hawaii during the pandemic

Oct 20, 2020 3:22 PM ET

Oct 20, 2020 11:22 AM ET
iCrowd Newswire – Oct 20, 2020

If you have emergency expenses or experience a sudden decrease in income, including wages and benefits, you may be tempted to delay paying your bills. The bills will only build up, which means that there is the risk of being eventually disconnected by your supplier. Due to the fact that utility services are such an important part of modern life, there are limits and procedural requirements regarding the ability of a supplier to disconnect a customer. Regardless of whether you are the customer of a big or small utility bill, pick up the phone and get in touch with the company. It may not even be necessary to do that.

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No matter the circumstances, no household will be disconnected from their water or electricity supply during the pandemic. The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission has recently declared that it will continue the suspension of service utility disconnections due to non-payment throughout the year. The measure has been taken to ensure protection and reassurance for customers during this time of uncertainty. Practically, people facing financial hardship do not have to worry that they will go a day without water or electricity. The extension is based on extraordinary circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It provides immediate relief for Hawaiians who are worried about keeping their lights on or taps running in the context of salary cuts and layoffs. There is still much work to be done to address the situation, but at least debt will not continue to accrue during the crisis. The unpaid bills will be honored with time, so companies should not attempt to cut off essential services. Extra services could be put in place to avoid mass shut-offs. Even if utility companies will not be disconnecting consumers, they will leave a notice indicating a lack of payment. If this should happen, it is recommended to contact your local assistance provider.

Nevertheless, financially healthy customers should continue to pay their bills. The extension is aimed at vulnerable groups only. After the suspension of service utility disconnections will be lifted, everyone will be responsible for their debt. No one else is obligated to pay your utility bills. Getting back on topic, measures exist during this period to ensure that citizens remain connected to their electricity, water, gas, etc. Customers who have missed a payment or two due to the coronavirus pandemic can rest assured that they will not be charged late payment fees.

Utility disconnection suspension will be extended until the economy has a chance to resume

Hawaii succeeded in avoiding a coronavirus spike, but the tourist economy has been severely affected. To be more precise, the beaches are empty, working hours have been dramatically cut, and there is not a single tourist on any of the islands. Being isolated in the middle of the Pacific has turned out to be a curse, as the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about profound financial and emotional impacts to families and individual residents in Hawaii. Given the current situation, it is necessary to prolong the suspension of service utility disconnections until the economy has a chance to resume.

Hawaii will not reopen its borders any time soon given the increasing number of infections worldwide. Monetary assistance will be provided through CARES funding, helping citizens manage various expenses during the coronavirus emergency. Hawaiians can obtain fast and direct relief if they provide their banking information to the IRS online. The American government understands the many challenges people are facing and wish to lend a helping hand. Helping communities has never been more important. Additional opportunities for CARES funding will be available this fall and those who are eligible for monetary assistance will be notified by their accountants via email.

Managing household bills during the pandemic

If you have the financial ability to pay your bills, you should do it so as to avoid higher balances accumulating or being disconnected when the pandemic is over. Tackle your debt obligations even if money is tight. The current circumstances will not allow you to meet every financial obligation on time, so you will have to choose which payment to make once you have money at hand. Utilities and car payments have medium priority. What could be more important? Housing, of course. Housing and related bills should be your number one priority. Pay your rent or mortgage and make sure that you have a roof over your head.

Car payments should be high on the priority list as well. Failure to pay installments results in repossession. Practicing social distancing is still necessary, so you will not want to be deprived of essential transportation when it comes to running errands or going to work. Driving is the safest way to travel during the COVID-19 pandemic. The good news is that automakers have made available programs that enable borrowers to defer loan payments if they are experiencing very difficult financial circumstances. Toyota, Nissan, and Ford are just some of the major auto brands offering payment deferral programs. Let’s nor forget about insurance premiums. Insurance companies offer various ways to pay the bill, including online options.

Everything else tends to have a lower priority. Types of debt that can be postponed for the moment include taxes, medical bills, and even student loans. Attention needs to be paid to the fact that financial institutions have agreed to allow borrowers to postpone their credit card payments. Some of them are actually refunding fees. Banks are responding to the crisis and reaching out to people in distress, providing much-needed aid to needy consumers. If financial institutions in Hawaii normally compete for clients, now they are joining their forces and sharing best practices. So many people in the community are experiencing income shortfalls, so we welcome the new reality.

All in all, some bills can wait, while others cannot. Meeting well-established financial obligations may become a challenge, but nothing is normal these days. It is necessary to adapt to the new reality by responding instead of reacting and managing financial expectations. If you are thinking about borrowing money to pay your bills, compare different deals and be certain you can afford to pay the loan back.


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