Water and power will not be shut off during city emergency, Anchorage mayor says

Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz. (Alaska Public Media file photo)

The Municipality of Anchorage said customers’ water and power will not be shut off for nonpayment for the remainder of the city’s disaster declaration. 

The decision to suspend utility shut-offs to Alaska Waste & Wastewater Utility and Municipal Light & Power customers was announced by Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz on Tuesday as an effort to “mitigate economic harms resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“We’re in the midst of a pandemic, which is causing dramatic repercussions to our economy. I want to make sure that no one is worried their water or power will be shut off because it’s suddenly tough to pay bills,” said Berkowitz in a press release.

That doesn’t mean that customers who are able should stop making payments: unpaid bills will continue to accrue throughout the duration of the disaster declaration. 

Chugach Electric also said it would suspend service disconnects for non-payment and will not be assessing late payment fees. 

“Chugach is urging members who are having difficulty making payments due to financial hardships caused by the Coronavirus pandemic to contact our Member Services department,” the company said in a Facebook post.

All three utilities have closed their in-person customer service offices in response to municipality directives about COVID-19, though customers can still call or get help online. 

Solid Waste Services said it will not suspend trash or recycling services, regardless of payment status, but that it is “assessing how to handle relief for any customers struggling with payments as a result of the COVID-19 response.”

Lex Treinen is covering the state Legislature for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at ltreinen@gmail.com.

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