Rep. Daley Seeks Two-Week Reprieve On Gas, Electric Shutoffs
Rep. Peter J. Daley II (D-Washington), Minority Chair of the House Consumer Affairs Committee, Thursday urged gas and electric utilities and the Public Utility Commission to grant a two-week reprieve on service shutoffs that can begin April 1, regardless of income.
"The severe winter and the well-documented problems with skyrocketing electric bills for ratepayers covered by variable-rate plans are more than enough reasons for a grace period," said Rep. Daley. "The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program – LIHEAP -- was extended by two weeks, and I think a similar reprieve for ratepayers is warranted."
Rep. Daley said that beginning April 1, past-due electric and natural gas bills can lead to terminations regardless of financial situations. From December 1 through March 31, utilities may not terminate service for certain low-income ratepayers without the PUC's approval.
In a letter to the PUC and the Energy Association of Pennsylvania, whose members deliver energy to more than 8.3 million residential, commercial and industrial customers, Daley requested that all shutoffs be delayed until April 14.
"Natural and unnatural forces this winter have put many ratepayers in a terrible financial bind, even posing 'heat or eat' dilemmas for too many in Pennsylvania," Rep. Daley wrote. "A two-week moratorium on shutoffs would be a responsible and appreciated response."
Rep. Daley said that the PUC mentioned higher utility bills from winter conditions in its release today warning about the April 1 shutoff rules.
"We know conditions were abysmal, so let's take a small step toward easing the pain," Rep. Daley said. "No legislation need be enacted to bring about this reprieve, just some business compassion."
The House Consumer Affairs Committee has scheduled a second hearing on the variable electric rate issue for April 10. The hearing will be held in the Gold Room, Allegheny County Courthouse, 436 Grant St., in Pittsburgh starting at 10:00.
The Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee will hold a hearing April 1 starting at 9:30 a.m. on variable electric rates.
|Go To Preceding Article Go To Next Article|