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Published on March 17th, 2020 | by Guest Contributor

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Utilities That Have & Have Not Suspended Disconnects Amid COVID-19

March 17th, 2020 by  


The article is Live and being updated on the The Energy and Policy Institute (EPI) website and on the SACE | Southern Alliance for Clean Energy website.

The Energy and Policy Institute (EPI) is tracking which utilities are suspending disconnections during the coronavirus outbreak, as well as regulators that are mandating suspensions. The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy is re-posting on our site to spread information about utility shutoffs further.

This post is regularly updated by the Energy and Policy Institute (EPI) here. As they update their post, SACE will do the same. We are sharing their post on our platform to get out the message of shutoffs to a wider audience. While SACE’s work is generally limited to the Southeast, this list covers service territories across the US.

Updated: March 16, 18:30 PT
Updated: March 15, 20:10 PT
Updated: March 15, 10:25 PT
Updated: March 14, 12:15 PT

If you have information to add, please fill out our survey here

Many utilities that sell electricity and gas around the United States are suspending disconnections of customers who do not pay their bills during the coronavirus crisis, or are being ordered to suspend disconnections by regulators or other government officials.

Other utilities are saying that they will not suspend disconnections, or are making commitments that appear to be more limited in scope.

The Energy and Policy Institute (EPI) is collecting data based on published reports about which utilities are suspending disconnections, and which public utility commissions or other governmental bodies are ordering suspensions. EPI reached out on Friday, March 13, to about two dozen large utility companies directly to ask whether they would be suspending disconnections.

We will be updating the tables below this text with more results on a rolling basis.

Regulatory and Government Action

Government bodies have ordered disconnection suspensions statewide in Connecticut, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ohio and Wisconsin. Illinois and West Virginia regulators are “urging” utilities to suspend disconnections, and the Governor of South Carolina is “request[ing] that all regulated utilities and cooperatives … do not suspend or disconnect essential services.”

Cities that are taking action to suspend disconnections include Austin, Minneapolis (for its water utility), Seattle, and Tallahassee, plus many others.

Utility Action

Many investor-owned utility companies have suspended disconnections, including Ameren, American Electric Power, Dominion Energy, Duke Energy, Evergy, FirstEnergy, Georgia Power, NV Energy, PECO, PG&E, Southern California Edison, Xcel Energy and others.

Other utilities have not suspended disconnections, or are not stating clearly how broadly they are applying customer relief policies:

– [UPDATE, 3/16: Salt River Project and Southwest Gas have since announced that they are suspending disconnections.] In Arizona, while electric utilities Arizona Public Service and Tucson Electric Power have said that they would suspend disconnections, the Salt River Project, a government agency which sells electricity, has said that it is not suspending disconnections. Instead, Salt River Project will “make every effort to work with our customers to avoid disconnections,” the Phoenix New Times reported. Southwest Gas, an investor-owned gas utility in the state, also offered only to “work with” customers facing financial hardship, “whatever the reason,” according to a spokesperson.

– [UPDATE, 3/15: Entergy published a statement on Saturday, March 14 updating its policy and saying that it was “temporarily suspending customer disconnects for the next 30 days as we continue to monitor the situation and may extend the period if necessary.”] In Louisiana, Entergy New Orleans is regulated by the City of New Orleans, not the state. Entergy New Orleans officials would not immediately commit to suspending disconnections when asked by members of the New Orleans City Council on Thursday, according to The Lens. Later that day, Entergy New Orleans sent a letter to council members saying that the company would  “temporarily halt customer disconnects for the next 30 days if nonpayment is the result of the COVID-19 virus.” The company did not offer any detail about what a customer would have to do to prove that “nonpayment is the result of the COVID-19 virus.” 

– [UPDATE, 3/16, 3:30 PT: Late on the afternoon of 3/16, FPL stated that “For now, we also are suspending disconnections at least through the end of March.” ]

– In Florida, Florida Power & Light sent customers an email on Friday advising customers having trouble paying their bills to look to federal, state, and local resources, with no comments on disconnection policies. FPL directed customers to FPL.com/help.

One anonymous respondent to EPI’s survey wrote on March 15 that their power is scheduled to be shut off today, on March 16, and wrote that FPL declined to extend the deadline further when the customer asked. EPI has not verified that account, but sent the comment to FPL for comment earlier this morning. EPI has asked FPL for a comment about service disconnections since last Friday; FPL has not responded.

– In Michigan, Consumers Energy told EPI that it is suspending shutoffs only for certain customer classes:

“We are suspending shutoffs for non-pay for low-income and senior customers beginning March 16, 2020 through April 5, 2020,” said Director of Media Relations Katie Carey. “Senior citizens and qualified low-income customers already enrolled in our Winter Protection Program have already had their end dates extended through April 30, 2020, without any additional actions required on their part.”

Deadline Detroit is reporting a similar policy from DTE Energy.

NRG Energy, with service territory across multiple states, issued a statement saying that it extended its “ongoing support to those who may need us,” but offered no comments on updates to its disconnection policies. NRG directed customers to visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s website.

Alabama Power has not responded to queries from EPI, and has issued a statement about its response to the crisis without mentioning anything about disconnection suspensions, despite its sister company Georgia Power announcing a suspension. The advocacy organization GASP (Greater Birmingham Alliance to Stop Pollution) is calling upon Alabama Power to suspend disconnections until at least May 1 and to waive late payment charges.

Further results are below. If you know information contained here is inaccurate or dated, or if you work for a utility with information not included here, please email us at press@energyandpolicy.org

This list is generally focused on electric and gas utilities. Food & Water Watch is keeping track of water disconnection suspensions here.

See full lists of regulators, government bodies, and utilities that have ordered disconnections suspended amid COVID-19 here
 
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