More than 5,500 Southern Nevadans who are in arrears in their payments to Southwest Gas due to the loss of employment or other economic effects stemming from the pandemic have had their bills paid for by Clark County with the use of federal CARES Act funding.
The County allocated more than $1 million to pay the Southwest Gas bills of 2,427 unincorporated Clark County residents and 3,092 residents of the cities of Las Vegas (1,626), Henderson (625) and North Las Vegas (828) and Boulder City (13).
“The economic effects of the pandemic on our residents have been harsh,” said Clark County Commission Chairman Marilyn Kirkpatrick. “We hope this provides a small measure of comfort during this difficult time for our community.”
The CARE Act funds will be used for past due balances for gas usage by customers who have informed Southwest Gas they have been impacted by the pandemic. Southwest Gas will begin crediting accounts immediately and eligible customers will see the assistance payment on their next billing statement or on their accounts at www.swgas.com. Processing may take up to twelve business days.
“We appreciate and applaud Clark County for making funds available to assist so many of our customers,” said John Hester, President and CEO of Southwest Gas. “We recognize the profound impact the pandemic has on many of our customers and that they depend on clean and affordable natural gas more so now than ever before. As such, we have continued to provide uninterrupted and reliable service during these tough times and are happy that Clark County has allocated CARES funds to help our customers.”
In March, Clark County and Southern Nevada cities declared a state of emergency related to the pandemic. In April, unemployment statewide soared to 28.2 percent, the highest rate ever reported by any state, even exceeding unemployment during the Great Depression. In May, the Clark County area ranked worst in the nation among similar urban areas with an unemployment rate of 29 percent, though it has fallen to 10.1 percent for November.
Nevadans are struggling to pay their household expenses, including utility bills, officials said. A Rand Corp. survey found almost one-third of middle-class families are having a difficult time, while half of respondents who earn less than $25,000 annually are having a hard time paying their bills.
Clark County is a dynamic and innovative organization dedicated to providing top-quality service with integrity, respect and accountability. With jurisdiction over the world-famous Las Vegas Strip and covering an area the size of New Jersey, Clark is the nation’s 11th-largest county and provides extensive regional services to 2.3 million citizens and 45.6 million visitors a year (2019). Included are the nation’s 9th-busiest airport, air quality compliance, social services and the state’s largest public hospital, University Medical Center. The County also provides municipal services that are traditionally provided by cities to 1 million residents in the unincorporated area. Those include fire protection, roads and other public works, parks and recreation, and planning and development.