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Maine PUC to end utility disconnection moratorium Nov. 1

Sep 15, 2020

Hallowell — The Maine Public Utilities Commission ordered the emergency moratorium on utility disconnection currently in effect to end Nov. 1. Because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the PUC implemented the moratorium in March so that customers unable to pay utility bills would continue to have power.

Today’s ruling allows utilities to recommence normal disconnection activities Nov. 1, subject to all applicable commission rules (including limitations during the winter disconnection period for residential customers of electric and natural gas utilities), subject to a 30-day notice requirement.

Utilities are required to offer reasonable payment arrangements on arrearages, and the order requires them to waive new late-payment charges when a customer enters a payment arrangement, and to continue the waiver as long as the customer remains in compliance with that arrangement.

“The Commission weighed the multifaceted interests of customers and utilities in making this decision,” said Chairman Philip L. Bartlett II. “The emergency moratorium was implemented to assist customers in the early days of the pandemic, when schools and businesses were being shuttered and people were ordered to stay at home.

"Continuing the blanket moratorium indefinitely would prevent some utility customers from accessing federal CARES Act funds to help them with their bills and could drive up costs for all utility customers over the long term.”

For electric and natural gas utilities, the effect of the commission’s ruling is that no residential customer can be disconnected without commission approval from Nov. 1 through April 15, 2021. For other utilities, disconnections may occur if utilities follow all commission rules.

 

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