PURA: Utility shutoff moratorium ending soon doesn’t mean power companies can begin to disconnect customers

Politics

(WTNH) — A utility shutoff moratorium for some people is ending as soon as Thursday. Others have until the end of the month. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that the utilities will begin disconnecting consumers.

“Tomorrow with the moratorium expiring, that doesn’t mean that the utilities should, or are ordered to begin disconnecting customers immediately,” said Marissa Gillett, the Chairman of Connecticut’s Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA). “I know that there has been some of that discussion as of late, but that’s certainly not what the conclusion of the moratorium translates into.”

The moratorium in effect for residential customers will end Thursday for non-hardship customers, and on Oct. 31 for financial hardship customers.

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If someone has an accumulated balance that they can’t afford to pay right now, they should know that PURA required all of the regulated utilities to create a COVID-19 Payment Program.

“The utilities are all required to offer this program which has a number of required parameters which include: they must offer residential customers a payment of up to 24 months, they must waive accumulated interest and late fees, and there is no financial need determination,” explained Gillett. “As long as you’re enrolled in that payment plan and you’re current with your payments, you can’t be disconnected whether the moratorium has expired or not.”

There are two kinds of ‘hardship’ customers: One is medical, someone with a serious or life-threatening injury and cannot be disconnected for those reasons. The second is the customer who has a family income of a certain percentage below the federal poverty guideline.

“The statutory winter protection program kicks in on Nov. 1 and goes through May 1 which provides protection to hardship residential customers so that they can’t have their heat disconnected during the winter months,” Gillett says.

If there is a second wave of the virus, all of this, like seemingly everything right now, is fluid.

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