Posted on

PSC extends moratorium for utility disconnections

The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) voted 2-1, to stay a portion of its June 26 order, to extend the moratorium on utility residential customer disconnections and refusal of service for non-payment, until Sept. 1. The additional time will allow PSC staff to collect more data and information from utilities on their disconnection plans, allow for comment from customer organizations and monitor further the spread of COVID-19 in the state.

The move comes as COVID-19 positive cases in Wisconsin, have more than doubled since the PSC met in June, to order the end of the moratorium.

“We continue to closely monitor COVID-19 and its impact on utility customers in Wisconsin,” said PSC chairperson, Rebecca Cameron Valcq. “It is our obligation to strike a balance to ensure the financial health of utilities, but also ensure customer safeguards are in place.”

The PSC voted to lift the temporary moratorium on utility disconnections for non-payment that was put in place in March, during the COVID-19 public health emergency. However, the PSC required that a utility postpone disconnection for 21 days, where there is a positive COVID-19 test and up to an additional 21 days, if the person is still under quarantine following the original postponement.

“It is our role to provide clarity to utilities, but be nimble enough to press the pause button when it is in the public interest to do so,” said Valcq. “We must press the pause button today on utility disconnections, as the risk to public health is far greater today, than it was a month ago, while the financial impact to utilities has been minimal.”

In light of the extension, the PSC is still strongly urging customers to seek a payment plan with their utility, or apply for energy assistance to avoid a large debt and possible disconnection when the moratorium ends.

If customers are having difficulty paying their energy bills, they may be eligible for assistance from the Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program (WHEAP). To determine eligibility or find out where to apply for assistance, visit homeenergyplus., or call 1-866-HEATWIS.

If customers cannot reach an agreement with their utility, they are urged to contact the PSC, by calling 1-800-225-7729, or by filing a complaint on the PSC website.

The PSC is continuing to monitor utilities’ disconnection plans, payment plan terms and customer notices, to ensure they conform to existing orders, administrative codes and state law. The commissioners plan to meet Aug. 20, to discuss if further modifications or extensions should be provided beyond Sept. 1.