PUC Enhances Protections for Customers Financially Impacted by COVID-19

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) has placed a number of enhanced consumer protections that are designed to protect families and small businesses who are struggling financially due to COVID-19 

In mid-March, the commission called for an emergency order which suspended all public utility terminations to support customers. The new PUC consumer safeguards will modify the emergency order. 

The safeguards placed by the PUC are designed for “protected customers” who are categorized as residential households that were hit the hardest by COVID-19 and small businesses. The PUC provides a list of consumer protections that utility providers are to follow. 

Customers who do not fall into the category of “protected customers” will begin to see termination and collections beginning Nov. 9, 2020 for all electric, natural gas, water, wastewater, telecommunications, and steam utilities subject to the Commission’s jurisdiction. 

Utilities must provide monthly reports that detail the number of customer accounts that are at-risk for termination, past-due balances and terminations. The first report is due Dec. 15 and will follow monthly on the 15th until March 31, 2021. 

The Commission will revisit the protections during the first quarter of 2021 to evaluate the current status of the economy and pandemic at the time. Interested parties can request revisions to the current consumer protections. These comments and proposals must be submitted to the Commission by Feb. 16, 2021.

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