PA Utility Shutoffs Resume on April 1st, Here’s What You Can Do If You Owe



WHYY: Laura Benshoff - March 31, 2021


Pennsylvanians who have put off paying utility bills will soon be forced to settle up, or risk losing service.


On April 1, utility companies in the commonwealth can resume terminations of non-paying customers, as the annual winter shut-off moratorium lifts.


Efforts to keep people safe during the past two winters, and at home during the onslaught of coronavirus, temporarily lifted the possibility of losing service. As a result, some residents have not faced the threat of utility shutoffs since November 2019.


During that time, as the economy crashed and hundreds of thousands in Pennsylvania lost work, utility debt swelled. By March 25, the number of accounts that faced possible termination was 890,000 and the amount they owed totaled $856 billion, according to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC).


At a recent hearing before the PUC, companies argued that they needed to be able to threaten a shutoff in order to get customers to respond, according to documents filed with the commission. The commission chair agreed earlier this month but also imposed new conditions on repayment.


Here is a guide to understanding the terms utility companies must offer customers behind on their bills and the aid available.


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