Utility companies in Pennsylvania will lift the moratorium on shutoffs on March 31. After that date, the companies can once again cut off their service. According to a KYW Newsradio report, this marks the first time during the pandemic utility companies can shut off services due to overdue bills.
As stated by the Philadelphia Inquirer, the state implemented a moratorium on shutoffs back in March when it became clear that the pandemic would upend the economy of Pennsylvanians. Compared with previous years, the utility companies say that unpaid bills have gone up 68%.
The Inquirer points out that the consequences of shutdowns of gas, electricity, and sewage may cause imminent health risks. Inadequate heat and hygiene could render homes uninhabitable as temperatures drop. To control the spread of the virus, we need people to be safe in their homes. The only glimmer of light here is that the annual heating shutoff moratorium will kick into effect at the end of November.
You can read: Treasury Department: Stimulus payments of $1,400 begin
Meanwhile, KYW Newsradio spoke with PECO, PGW and PPL Electric. All of them said that they do not want to cut off anybody’s service. In fact, their goal is to make sure that does not occur. All of the utility companies offer payment options and assistance plans.
These are the payment assistance plans these utility companies offer:
PECO offers smaller payment plans of a month or a year, to much larger ones. It also has a Customer Assistance Program (CAP).”For customers who are our most vulnerable customers,” explained PECO Chief Customer Officer Funmi Williamson, “who are at 250% federal poverty level or below, essentially they can spread their payment option for up to five years.”
Customers can learn about their options at PECO’s website or by calling the customer care center at 1-800-494-4000.
Philadelphia Gas Works has payment assistance programs like the Customer Responsibility Program they want people to sign up for immediately.
“We’re really encouraging customers to reach out to us, find out what their options are,” said PGW Public Information Manager Richard Barnes. “We understand it’s been very difficult.”
Customers can learn about their options at PGW’s website or by calling the customer care team at 215-235-1000.
PPL Electric Regional Affairs Director Jane George said they have a variety of payment plans and assistant programs like the OnTrack payment plan which offers debt forgiveness and Operation HELP which helps customers pay their bill.
Customers can learn more at PPL Electric’s site or can call 1-800-342-5775 for payment assistance.