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Utility Shutoff Protection Extended in Two States

On March 11, the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) ordered two utilities, Pepco and Baltimore Gas & Electric (BGE), to delay shutting off gas or electricity service for one week, until April 7.

Gov. Martin O'Malley asked the PSC for the extension and said he wanted the PSC to use the additional time to determine what prompted an unusual spike in bills and to develop alternative payment plans for consumers.

The PSC's order creates a work group that will develop a payment plan that these utility companies would have to offer any customer in arrears. The work group will present its findings at the April hearing.

Nearly 84,000 BG&E customers and nearly 43,000 Pepco customers face potential service terminations.

The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC), following a request from Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm, extended existing shutoff protection from March 31 until April 30. The ruling says a utility cannot shut off service if a customer is 65 years of age or older, has a physical or mental disability or if household income does not exceed 200 percent of federal poverty guidelines and the customer advises the utility of circumstances and adheres to a payment plan.

The ruling also prohibits the installation of service limiters at any customer’s residence during the applicable period.

Source: MPCS and MD PSC