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COVID moratorium on utility shut-offs coming to an end in New Jersey, Pennsylvania

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Christopher Neely's picture
Independent Local News Organization

Journalist for nearly a decade with keen interest in local energy policies for cities and national efforts to facilitate a renewable revolution. 

  • Member since 2017
  • 725 items added with 353,737 views
  • Oct 12, 2020
  • 677 views

Some moratoriums on utility shut-offs are coming to an end this week, despite the financial trouble many utility customers find themselves in seven months into the pandemic. Utilities should not support the end of these moratoriums. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented pain on communities throughout the country and the world. Unprecedented pain means unprecedented solutions or, at least, unprecedented bandages. Sure, moratoriums on electricity shut-offs, just as moratoriums on evictions, only kick the issue down the road with no clear solution. However, the issues brought on by the pandemic need to be solved in order. Until the pandemic's public health crisis has been solved with a vaccine, then we cannot begin removing the societal bandages we've put in place. 

Utilities, which are often backed with government subsidies, that now plan to begin threatening electricity shut-offs for unpaying customers are not helping their communities. Without a vaccine and unemployment and wage losses at still skyrocketing levels, it's unlikely much has changed for unpaying customers who have been protected by the moratoriums.  Threatening shut-offs now would be the same as threatening shut-offs in April and May, something not many utilities would have done. 

It sounds like the New Jersey governor will extend the moratorium on shut-offs. It doesn't appear that way in Pennsylvania. In the absence of a government moratorium, utilities need to step up and continue being community players, especially those subsidized with government dollars. 

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