Wisconsin Extends Shutoff Moratorium For Utilities
Wisconsin utility customers struggling to pay their bills will be an extended reprieve. The Public Services Commission has extended the moratorium on utility shutoffs for another month - with a new end date of October 1, 2020.
Factors contributing to the extension were shared by Public Services Commission Chairperson Rebecca Valcq. According to news sources, Valcq described that COVID-19 cases remain high in the state, there was an extension of the statewide emergency, the expiration of the $600 federal unemployment benefit, the state of schools reopening (i.e. most are planning some form of virtual learning), and about one-third of residential customers have fallen behind on paying their utility bills. Those factors combined into the decision making process.
There was one descending vote; Commissioner Ellen Nowak stated that she voted against the extension measure because "there's no evidence of a correlation between the rise in COVID-19 cases and the ability of people to pay their utility bills".
Usually this is the time of year where customers will find their utilities shut off for lack of payment. Unlike the winter months - where heat is a life-or-death situation, summer brings less safety concerns. During times of oppressive heatwaves, customers who have found their utilities disconnected are instead directed to cooling centers.
While the extension to the shutoff moratorium is good news to those who have fallen behind, others worry about what utility companies will do to reclaim their lost revenue. The growing number of customers who are past-due adds to the amount of money the utilities will need to recover in future rate increases.
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