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For a second time this year, Virginia Natural Gas (VNG) is helping connect customers impacted by financial hardship due to covid-19 through $1.6 million in grants for bill-payment assistance to hardest hit customers.
“We know the past year has been difficult and recognize that covid-19 has affected many of our customers, potentially impacting their source of income,” said Robert Duvall, VNG President. “This second phase of grants show our commitment to help meet the needs of our customers.”
Last December, VNG received $4.4 million in Coronavirus Relief Funds through the Virginia State Corporation Commission as part of the CARES Act to assist eligible customers facing financial burdens caused by the covid-19 pandemic.
Earlier this year, VNG helped assist nearly 12,000 residential and business customers with $2.8 million of these grant funds during Phase 1. The remaining $1.6 million was allotted for the second phase of the financial assistance program.
Once the energy company notified recipients of the first ground of grants, plans were put in place to notify customers of their eligibility status and the application process for Phase 2, to provide as many individuals, families, and businesses as possible with the assistance they needed.
Eligible customers will receive a one-time grant automatically applied to their account listed as a “Coronavirus Relief Fund” credit on their June or July energy bill. The grant does not need to be repaid.
“Though the country and the state of Virginia are on the mend and recovering from the adverse impacts of the pandemic, the number of requests we received in Phase 2 shows there’s still a need—a need to continue assisting our customers by helping distribute critical relief funds that help provide peace of mind,” said Duvall.
Since the program started in 2020, nearly 19,000 VNG customers have been helped. VNG, along with other utility companies across the state, is working with the Virginia General Assembly to determine if there will be future phases of the program for additional funding.
Along with providing financial assistance, VNG also invested in the community through multiple relief efforts and community partnerships. In the past year, the energy company has donated more than $1.2 million to more than 45 local nonprofits throughout Hampton Roads, and conducted multiple food drives, collecting more than 5,000 pounds of food for those in need.