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Seasonal Moratoria Coming to an End for Some States

February 10, 2017 – The Ohio Public Service Commission issued a reminder this week to residents about the state’s Winter Reconnect Order, which is designed to prevent utility shut-offs during the winter heating season. The Commission stated this protection ends April 14, 2017.

The Ohio Winter Reconnect Order also applies to customers seeking to establish new electrical and natural gas service. Rather than paying the full security deposit required for new service, customers can pay $175 and be billed for the remainder at the end of the month. There is no income eligibility guidelines to utilize the Winter Reconnect Order; however, customers at or below 175 percent of the federal poverty level may apply through the LIHEAP office to pay the $175 amount.

Ohio is just one of many states that have regulatory measures that protect customers from having their utility service disconnected due to delinquent bills. While Ohio’s moratorium expires in April, the measures in 20 other states end next month. An additional 11 states will end their moratoriums in April.

At this point in the year, most states are covered by a disconnect moratorium. Nineteen states have date-based moratoriums that are in place during certain months of the year, and most of these end sometime between February and April. Thirty-three States have temperature-based moratoriums that protect customers from utility disconnections if the temperature falls below 32 degrees.

Fifteen states, including Oklahoma and Missouri, do not allow the disconnection of utility service if the temperature is below 32 degrees. Other moratoriums, offered in Montana and Maryland, include utility disconnection protection if there is an elderly person in the household or if the temperature exceeds 95 degrees. Twelve other states, including Alaska and Arkansas, also offer protection to households with elderly or severely ill customers.

As deadlines for LIHEAP assistance approach, customers are urged to apply as soon as possible for the assistance, even if they don’t think they qualify. States without moratoriums for utility disconnection may offer crisis assistance through LIHEAP, which may provide immediate assistance if a shut-off occurs. Customers are urged to apply for assistance as soon as possible, as funding is limited.

The LIHEAP Clearinghouse hosts information on its website regarding state moratorium regulations and other specifications about customer protection from utility shut-offs. For more information about disconnection policies in each state, see the Clearinghouse website.

Sources: Media reports, LIHEAP Clearinghouse