PSC votes to extend utility disconnection moratorium
The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) voted 2-1, Sept. 17, to continue to stay a portion of its June 26 order, extending the moratorium on utility residential customer disconnections and refusal of service for non-payment, until Nov. 1. Prior to the extension, regulated utilities were not allowed to disconnect service for non-payment until Oct. 1.
The move comes as COVID-19 positive cases continue to spike in the state. The PSC’s actions also approach its annual moratorium on cold weather disconnections, for utility service used for home heating. The moratorium is set to begin Nov. 1, and runs to April 15, 2021.
Water, electric and gas utilities seeking to request the ability to disconnect during the winter moratorium, will have to file a disconnection plan with the PSC and receive approval, before they can proceed with disconnections.
Commissioners strongly urge customers to contact their utility to set up payment plans or to seek energy assistance now, instead of waiting until the end of the moratorium.
“If you have been unable to pay your utility bills, contact your utility to arrange a payment plan or seek public assistance now, and while funding is available,” said Rebecca Cameron Valcq, chairperson of the PSC. “Even paying a little bit at a time or applying for energy assistance today, can help head off an insurmountable debt at the end of the moratorium.”
The PSC has worked with energy assistance program staff and utilities, to ensure energy assistance and crisis funding is available, including an additional $8 million in Low Income Energy Assistance Program crisis funds, available through the federal CARES Act, to qualifying households to help manage heating season energy costs and, in the case of crisis funds, decrease customers’ arrears.
If customers are having difficulty paying their energy bills, they may be eligible for assistance from the Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program (WHEAP). To apply online, visit energybenefit.wi.gov, or to find out where to apply in person or by phone, 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.