The Brillion News
MADISON - On Thursday, August 20, the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) voted 2-1 to continue to stay a portion of its June 26 order, extending the moratorium on utility residential customer disconnections and refusal of service for nonpayment until October 1. The additional time will allow PSC staff to collect more data and information from utilities on their disconnection plans and collections, and monitor further the spread of COVID-19 in the state.
The move comes as COVID-19 positive cases in Wisconsin continue to be reported in high numbers across the state.
"We continue to base our decisions on the data presented to us and what is in the public interest." said PSC Chairperson, Rebecca Cameron Valcq. "The high incidence of COVID-19 across our state has not diminished. At this time, an extension of the moratorium is necessary to support public health and safety."
In light of the extension, the PSC is still strongly urging customers to seek a payment plan with their utility or apply for energy assistance to avoid a large debt and possible disconnection when the moratorium ends.
If customers are having difficulty paying their energy bills, they may be eligible for assistance from the Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program (WHEAP).
To determine eligibility or find out where to apply for assistance, go to http://homeenergyplus.wi.gov/ or call 1-866-HEATWIS. If customers cannot reach an agreement with their utility, they are urged to contact the PSC by calling 1-800-225-7729, or by filing a complaint on the PSC website.
In June, the PSC voted to lift the temporary moratorium on utility disconnections for nonpayment that was put in place in March, during the COVID-19 public health emergency. However, the PSC required that a utility postpone disconnection for 21 days where there is a positive COVID-19 test and up to an additional 21 days if the person is still under quarantine following the original postponement. As reported cases of COVID-19 more than doubled since the June decision, in July the PSC stayed a portion of its previous order delaying residential disconnections to September 1.
The August 20 decision further extends that to October 1. The PSC will meet again on September 17 to reassess the pandemic's effects and to determine if further extension is warranted.
The PSC said it is continuing to monitor utilities' disconnection plans, payment plan terms, and customer notices to ensure they conform to existing orders, administrative codes, and state law.