Utility shutoff moratorium ends for non-hardship customers

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HARTFORD, Conn. (WTIC Radio)—Connecticut's moratorium that barred utility companies from shutting off services because of unpaid bills ends Wednesday for residents who are not classified as having a financial hardship.

The state put the moratorium in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in an effort to help families that were struggling financially.

With the end of the moratorium, customers who are not considered to have financial hardships may soon see bills with shutoff notices coming in the mail.

This may come as a shock for residents who are still struggling financially, Operation Fuel Executive Director Brenda Watson said.

Watson recommends residents who are facing this challenge to reach out to the utility company to see if they qualify for having financial hardship or to learn about any payment plans they offer.

"I understand that the utilities are at the point now where they are willing to work with any customer who calls them and notes that they're struggling with the cost of their utility bills," she said.

If that does not work out, she suggests calling 2-1-1 for additional resources or to reach out to Operation Fuel which offers financial help for unpaid bills and other services.

Though the utilities are understanding of the financial challenges people may still be facing, Watson noted that utilities cannot keep providing services with unpaid bills forever.

For customers who are considered to be under financial hardship, the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority mandated that utility companies extend their pause on service shutoffs through the end of the state's public health emergency. That is set to expire at the end of the month.

"We are expecting an increase in requests as a result of the moratorium ending, so I believe that the month of October will be busy for us," Watson said.

She reminds residents that the traditional heating shutoff moratorium period begins in November.

Operation Fuel has resources on getting financial assistance, hardship coding and payment plans online.

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