A Pre-Hearing Conference in this proceeding has been set for September 28, 2020, beginning at 10 a.m.
Washington Gas Cares Program Provides Easy Access to Convenient Bill Payment Plans and Energy Assistance Options for Customers in Need
Customers behind on payments can depend on the Washington Gas Cares program for support, guidance, and access to resources every step of the way
November 9, 2020 (WASHINGTON, D.C.) – As part of an ongoing commitment to help customers experiencing financial challenges in paying their gas bills, Washington Gas has introduced Washington Gas Cares, a program that connects customers with energy assistance plans and a variety of self-service flexible payment options to support them in their time of need.
Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Washington Gas has seen a significant increase in past due customer accounts. As of October 2020, there are approximately 80,000 past due accounts that are more than three months behind—a 28 percent increase compared to the same time last year.
Washington Gas encourages customers with a past due balance on their account to engage with the Washington Gas Cares program by visiting www.washingtongascares.com. Washington Gas, which serves 1.2 million customers across Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia, can work with customers to establish a convenient payment arrangement based on their individual circumstances using various effective plans and programs.
“Washington Gas is dedicated to the communities, families, individuals and neighbors we serve. It’s part of who we are and what the Washington Gas Cares initiative is all about—lending a hand when customers are struggling, including those impacted during the COVID-19 crisis,” said Blue Jenkins, President, Washington Gas. “Our team knows that customers have difficult decisions to make when paying their bills. We can identify the right energy assistance option and payment plan that fits a customer’s budget. We are here to help.”
Washington Gas Cares packages all current company assistance offerings in one program. Customers now have easy access to payment and energy assistance options in a single online location. In addition, the Washington Gas Cares team is conducting proactive outreach to customers via phone calls, automated messaging or email communication to provide personal guidance to customers so that they can better understand a past due bill and how to set up an affordable payment plan.
Caring for Customers: Washington Gas Assistance Programs
Washington Gas assistance comes in many forms for customers having a hard time making a payment. On the Washington Gas Cares website, there are two main categories:
How to Get Help
Customers seeking payment assistance through many existing programs across Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia will be directed to the Energy Assistance page.
Customers interested in making a payment or choosing among many payment arrangement plans using the self-service online option will visit the Payment Plan page.
How to Give Help
Customers can help those struggling to pay their bill through an act of kindness. For example, through the Gift of Warmth program, customers can pay a gas bill for their fellow customers.
Customers can also donate to the Washington Area Fuel Fund (WAFF). More than 35 years ago, Washington Gas and The Salvation Army created WAFF to help families in need pay their bill.
Payment Plans: A Variety for Convenience
A summary of the payment plans to help with managing an account balance:
Deferred Payment Plan – all eligible customers who cannot pay the “past due bill amount” as well as the “current charges” on their bill can enter into a deferred pay agreement or consent order. Currently Washington Gas is offering 12-month payment plans and, in some cases, up to 24 months with no down payment.
Budget Plan – spreads the cost of winter heating over the entire year. Washington Gas calculates the customer’s average monthly payment based on historical natural gas usage, adjusted for normal weather and projected gas costs. Periodically, we review the account to confirm that our monthly estimate is on target.
Payment Extension Plan – (offered to residential customers only) can extend the due date for customers – typically individuals whose main source of income is a monthly government or pension check – who purchase gas from Washington Gas and receive their bills after the 10th of the month.
Automated Payment Plan (APPL) – Customers can pay their bill automatically every month through the Automated Payment Plan. Washington Gas will continue to bill each month, but, on the payment due date, the bill amount will be automatically deducted from the customer’s checking account which will avoid the need for check writing, postage and/or waiting in line. If a customer is enrolled in Washington Gas’ eBill program, an electronic notification will be sent every month to the customer’s registered email address with a link to view the electronic bill. However, if a customer prefers to receive a paper bill each month, customers can still pay their gas bill automatically through the Automated Payment Plan (APPL).
Customers may also reach Washington Gas at 844-WASHGAS (844-927-4427), selecting option 2 for more information or to establish payment arrangements. Please note that wait times to speak to a Customer Advocate may be extended due to higher call volumes during the pandemic so customers are encouraged to take advantage of the automated option above or self-serve options on the website.
Prepare for Winter – Money and Energy Savings
Washington Gas also reminds customers that they may notice a fluctuation in their bill amounts as seasons change because more energy from natural gas is being used, especially in the coldest months of winter. Customers are urged to take simple steps (such as caulking, weather-stripping and insulating any openings where air may infiltrate) to help manage their home energy costs and stay safe, warm and energy-smart when temperatures begin to drop. The typical home saves an average of 25 percent on energy consumption and saves an average of more than $275 annually in heating and cooling costs after weatherization services.
About Washington Gas
Washington Gas, a wholly-owned subsidiary of AltaGas Ltd, is a regulated natural gas utility that provides safe, reliable natural gas service to more than 1.2 million customers in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia. The company has been providing energy to residential, commercial and industrial customers for more than 171 years. Visit us at www.washingtongas.com and follow us on Twitter @washingtongas, LinkedIn and Facebook.