A number of U.S. sates have taken steps to ensure household utility services are not suspended due to lack of payment during the COVID-19 emergency. Health authorities at the national level advised local and state authorities to ensure water services would not be shut off, so that people could follow handwashing hygiene recommendations. Some states have followed this advice, but others have been slower to act, informs Yahoo Finance.
According to The Guardian, less than 60% of the population in the U.S. has so far been protected from water shutoffs. Millions of Americans risk losing water services if they don’t keep up with payments, at a time when the pandemic has caused unemployment to sky-rocket.
On another front, because utilities provide critical services, companies already had contingency plans in the event of a pandemic, even storing food on-site in case critical workers had to isolate from the general public to avoid becoming ill. Outside of Albany in New York, electrical grid support staff are isolated from the outside world since March 24, as part of emergency measures to ensure the continuity of services.
On the other hand, some utilities could face financial difficulty as a result of the pandemic. The utility sector has always been an investment haven because the demand is guaranteed. However, there have been reports of almost 30% losses in the sector, year to date, and things could get worse. The shutting down of business will reduce the demand in the coming weeks. The National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) estimates the impact of the coronavirus to cost $12.5 billion, assuming average losses in revenue of 20%, a conservative estimate.