Updated October 8, 2020 - 11:26 am
Clark County announced Thursday it will effectively pay 15,700 late power bills of Southern Nevadans who are struggling financially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The county plans to pay NV Energy $5.3 million to cover costs of those late bills with funding from the federal coronavirus relief package, known as the CARES Act, enacted in March. Unincorporated Clark County residents will see their accounts automatically credited if they have indicated they are affected by the pandemic.
“The pandemic has been incredibly hard on the residents of Southern Nevada,” Clark County Commission Chairwoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick said. “Our families are struggling, and they shouldn’t have to choose between putting food on the table and paying their power bills. This effort will provide real help to the families who need it most.”
Nevada’s power company is lifting a self-imposed moratorium on collections and power shutoffs in the coming weeks. Overdue customers who haven’t told NV Energy that they are financially affected by the pandemic could be subject to shutoffs starting Oct. 22, according to the company, which will also resume collecting on bills from shutoff-exempted customers in November, although it may “adjust this timing if needed.”
NV Energy told a regulatory body that 68,282 of its residential and small commercial customers were late on their payments as of Aug. 20, with nearly half at least 90 days overdue. At that time, the company had $29.5 million in arrears compared with $6.8 million at the same time last year.
Clark County’s payment won’t cover late fees, though NV Energy agreed to waive associated late fees and penalties for bills paid for by the county’s coronavirus relief funds, a county statement said.
NV Energy customers who have notified the power company that they are struggling financially because of the pandemic will see the CARES Act funding applied to their accounts Monday, spokeswoman Jennifer Schuricht said. The funds will apply to the late balance incurred starting from the date a customer notified NV Energy of their issues paying bills, she said.
“NV Energy appreciates Clark County for expediting CARES Act assistance to unincorporated Clark County residents who are struggling with their utility bills,” President and CEO Doug Cannon said. “This funding, in addition to a one-time bill credit from NV Energy that will show up on October bills, will go a long way toward easing the financial challenges so many are experiencing.”
Regulators approved a $120 million payout Wednesday from NV Energy to Southern Nevadan customers in the form of a one-time credit that will appear on October bills starting Friday.
The CARES Act funding for the bills is separate from a grant program known as the CARES Housing Assistance Program, or CHAP, county spokesman Erik Pappa said. CHAP is available locally in Southern Nevada for gas and electric bills.
Southern Nevadans may have options if they are struggling to pay their utility bills:
— Southwest Gas customers can explore possible assistance by calling 877-860-6020 or visiting swgas.com/en/covid19.
— Las Vegas Valley Water District customers can call 702-870-4194 to let the company know they are struggling to pay their bill. For more information visit www.lvvwd.com/customer-service/.
The CARES Act funds bill assistance for utilities or housing costs through the CHAP grant program, and it’s available locally in Southern Nevada for gas and electric bills.
— All Clark County residents can visit helphopehome.org for additional information on eligibility and how to apply.
— North Las Vegas has its own application for residents that can be accessed at nlvcares.com by clicking on the link labeled “North Las Vegas CHAP: CARES Housing Assistance Program.” A CHAP administrator for the city said, “Residents that have been financially impacted by COVID (laid off, reduced hours, furlough, loss of business income) can have their outstanding utility bills from March to now completely paid on their behalf via the CHAP program.”