PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Mass shutoffs could be on the horizon for Pennsylvanians.
The emergency order issued in March by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, which suspended terminations, expires Nov. 9. This potentially adds to the pre-existing economic burden residents are already facing because of the pandemic.
State Rep. Valerie Gaydos told KDKA for residents in her district, “there are a lot of things just mounting and piling up.” However, the PUC recently made an announcement that could be a relief for some customers.
The PUC announced a no shut-off order for certain protected customers. To be considered, customers must be within 300 percent of the federal poverty guidelines and have applied for all available assistance.
Small businesses can request payment arrangements for overdue balances and are protected from termination if they remain up on payments under the new order. For Rep. Gaydos, this is a temporary solution.
She is now calling on her colleagues to create legislation and lower costs.
“Anytime utilities are asking for rate increases, we need to be asking what those arguments are about, why they are asking for rate increases,” said Gaydos.
There’s a 20-day notification period before any utility can shut off service. Connection, deposit and late fees will also be waived for protected customers.
These added protections expire on March 31, 2021.