Utility shutoff pause to stop next week
Eversource, the state’s largest electric utility, said it will soon start the process of shutting off service for residential customers in Connecticut who are behind on payments and have not been identified as having a financial hardship.
The move comes as a statemandated, 18-month moratorium on such service shutoffs is due to end. The moratorium has barred utility companies — including electric, natural gas and water providers — from shutting off service for nonpayment.
The moratorium was ordered in response to financial hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Eversource announced it will end its monthslong pause on
nonpayment-related service cut-offs for non-hardship residential customers on Sept. 15.
The company has defined a “financial hardship” as a case in which customers cannot pay their bills because: someone living in their home is seriously ill, if all adults are age 65 or older and a minor lives in the home or a child under a year old lives in the home. Between Nov. 15 and March 15, someone who can’t pay their bills is under financial hardship if the service provides heat and the service wasn’t shut off for non-payment before Nov. 15.
Customers facing shutoff should receive multiple letters before service is disconnected, the company said in a news release Tuesday.
“The last thing we want to do is disconnect anyone’s service, but the fact is unpaid energy bills increase costs for all customers,” Jess Cain, Eversource’s vice president of customer operations, said in a statement.
“While service disconnections for non-payment have been suspended for nearly 18 months, we understand the challenges some of our customers may still be facing,” Cain’s statement said.
Eversource has scheduled a free webinar to educate customers about payment options and assistance programs. The webinar is scheduled for noon Friday. Customers must register beforehand.
In March, the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority mandated that electric, natural gas and water companies halt shutoffs. The order came after a petition from Attorney General William Tong, who asked that the regulatory authority consider a 30-day moratorium on shutoffs.
The authority met and ordered an end to shutoffs for the duration of the state’s public health emergency. The state of emergency is set to expire this month.
Eversource encouraged customers having trouble paying their bills to contact company representatives.
Eversource offers several payment plans. Customers who participate in payment plans won’t have service shut off, Cain’s statement said. The state also has a program that provides up to $1,500 of electricity assistance through UniteCT.
UniteCT, the state’s rental assistance program, also offers electricity payment assistance.The program is managed by the Connecticut Department of Housing and funded through federal dollars.
Eversource has also scheduled a free webinar to educate customers about payment options and assistance programs. The webinar is scheduled for noon Friday. Customers must register beforehand.