Utility Shutoffs During COVID-19

Utility Shutoffs During COVID-19

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What happens if I can’t afford my utility bills right now?

New York State has taken steps to ensure that any customers affected by COVID-19 will not lose certain utilities due to financial hardship through December 22, 2021. There are some additional protections against water shutoffs through June 2022. Per Governor Cuomo’s March 13, 2020 directive, all energy and water utilities operating under the state’s authority have been ordered to halt terminations of service for both commercial and residential customers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. 

As a result, major energy utility providers including NYSEG, RG&E, and National Grid have suspended terminations of service to customers for matters arising from inability to pay. Similarly, many private water service providers have also ceased service disconnections because of customers’ inability to pay. 

 

What utilities are protected from shutoff?

Electric, natural gas, steam, landline telephones, internet, and both public and private water services.

 

How do I protect my utilities from being shutoff?

You, the customer, must contact the utility company directly and ask for shutoff protection. You will have to self-certify with the utility provider that you had a change in financial circumstances or loss of income due to COVID-19. Just because you are behind in payments does not mean you are automatically protected -- you must contact the utility company directly.

 

Will my past due amount be forgiven?

No, this shutoff protection is only a grace period to allow you more time to pay your bill. Your utility provider must offer you a deferred payment agreement with no money down, no late fees, and no interest. You should contact 2-1-1 in your area to find out about any payment assistance programs to help with the amount owed.

 

What if I can still afford my utility bills? Does this mean I don’t have to pay?

No, this does not mean you do not have to pay. If you are able, you should pay your utility bills as they come due. 

 

What if my service provider is threatening to shut off my utilities anyway?

If your service provider is threatening you with a utility shutoff and you have already called them to request shutoff protection, you should call our office. 

 

What if my utilities have already been shut off by my service provider?

If your utilities have been disconnected in violation of the moratorium, please call our office. You can also file an emergency complaint with the Public Service Commission by calling 1-800-342-3377. 

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© Legal Assistance of Western New York, Inc. ®

This article provides general information about this subject. Laws affecting this subject may have changed since this article was written. For specific legal advice about a problem you are having, get the advice of a lawyer.  Receiving this information does not make you a client of our office.

 

Last Reviewed: December 2, 2021

 

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