The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission has told companies they can’t turn off customers’ utilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The PUC’s action means utilities including electric, natural gas, water and telecommunications cannot be turned off if someone falls behind on their bills. It will last as long as Gov. Tom Wolf’s declaration of disaster.
Tanya McCloskey, Pennsylvania’s acting consumer advocate, said access to utility services will be critically important in the coming weeks, and the commission did the right thing.
“But we’d also like to see the utilities work with their customers that already had their service turned off to get that service restored promptly and to work with customers on paying their utility bills," McCloskey said. "As we know many customers are going to have financial difficulty over the next several weeks.”
McCloskey said the Office of Consumer Advocate is encouraging people to contact their utilities.
“Many folks are facing a situation where their hours will be reduced or they will be laid off, and that may cause them some difficulty in paying their utility bills," McCloskey said. "So, we’re encouraging customers to contact their utility, and we’re encouraging utilities to work with their customers to establish reasonable payment arrangements."
Customers having difficulty can also contact the Pennsylvania Office of Consumer Advocate.