Last week the Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) voted to extend the moratorium on utility shutoffs for residential customers to April 15, 2021, thereby guaranteeing gas and electrical service to customers who fall behind on their bills, Alderman Khalif J. Rainey said.
In a 2-1 vote on Thursday (September 17th), the Commission approved the extension, citing continuing health and economic factors tied to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The PSC noted increasing COVID-19 infections in Wisconsin, and that allowing utility disconnections could force people to leave their homes and into unsafe living conditions during the pandemic.
The vote was the second extension of the disconnection moratorium by the PSC, and came as the ban was set to expire on October 1.
In July a joint letter from Council members that was spearheaded by Alderman Rainey was sent to the PSC, urging Commission to extend the moratorium. That letter – signed by Alderman Rainey and 13 Common Council colleagues – noted the basic indecency and inhumanity of disconnecting vulnerable people from light, heat and the ability to stay cool. Shortly after that letter was sent, the PSC voted to extend the disconnection moratorium.
Alderman Rainey said the moratorium is essential now to allow people to live with basic needs, especially as colder temperatures are approaching that will require heating.
“I applaud the PSC for continuing to keep vulnerable residents in mind during this cruel pandemic,” Alderman Rainey said. “Basic human needs are a priority and not a luxury at this time.”
WeEnergies has recommended that customers who are having difficulty paying their bill call 800-842-4565 as soon as possible to discuss options, including payment plans and the potential for financial assistance.