Clark County is providing $5.3 million to cover energy bills for residents in danger of losing services because of the loss of employment or other economic impacts from the coronavirus pandemic.
The county announced Thursday that some 15,700 residents in unincorporated Clark County who are behind on payments will be credited through their NV Energy accounts using federal CARES Act funding. The funds will not cover late fees or penalties associated with delinquent bills, but NV Energy has agreed to forgive fees and penalties for bills paid for with the county’s Coronavirus Relief Funds, according to the county.
“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,” said Doug Cannon, NV Energy president and chief executive officer.
Assistance from the county comes after NV Energy told regulators that nearly 70,000 of its customers were late on their payments as of Aug. 20, with nearly half at least 90 days overdue. The energy provider will resume power shutoffs Oct. 22 for customers who say they have not been financially affected by the pandemic.
Officials for the City of Henderson also announced a $4.7 million grant program funded by the federal CARES Act to help residents pay for utilities and childcare services and is now accepting applications until Nov. 30, or until all the grant money is distributed.
The program offers up to $1,000 per household to cover essential utilities like water, sewer, energy, and gas for those who have been financially affected by the pandemic. To apply, visit cityofhenderson.com/covid19.
Thousands of Nevadans remain unemployed or otherwise unable to pay their bills since the state shutdown began in March.
Employment in April 2020 was roughly equivalent to employment in September 2009 during the Great Recession, losing a decade’s worth of employment growth in the blink of an eye.
During the Great Recession, Nevada lost about 196,000 jobs over 2.5 years from 2008 to 2010. The current crisis led to 280,000 jobs losses in just two months.
In May, the Clark County area ranked worst in the nation among similar urban areas with an unemployment rate of 29 percent, though it fell to 17.8 percent in June, but remained as high at 15.5 percent by the end of August, according to the Nevada Department of Employment, Training & Rehabilitation.
In Nevada nearly 2 in 5 adults say they are struggling to pay for everyday household expenses due to the pandemic, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
About 18 percent of Nevada households reported they did not make rent payments or deferred payment last month, according to the Household Pulse Survey for the week ending Sept. 14.
According to that same survey, about 11 percent of Nevadas also reported food insufficiency “sometimes” or “often” in the past seven days.