Ruling will give at-risk Ohioans protection from utility disconnection during assistance application process.
The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) Wednesday ordered Ohio’s investor-owned electric and natural gas utilities to suspend disconnections of customers for nonpayment if the customer has a pending application for various energy assistance programs. Specifically, utilities will be prohibited from disconnecting for nonpayment for 30 days after a customer has applied for Winter and Summer Crisis programs, Home Energy Assistance Programs (HEAP), or the Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP). (Links to these energy assistance programs can be found online at https://tinyurl.com/ye296f5w.) This is an addition to the existing consumer protections surrounding utility disconnections for nonpayment. Those protections are outlined online at https://tinyurl.com/ms5y6487.
Ohio Consumers’ Counsel Bruce Weston issued the following statement on the PUCO decision, “We are pleased to see today’s PUCO ruling that grants a request by the consumers’ counsel and legal aid groups to protect at-risk Ohioans from unfair utility disconnections. Going forward, electric and natural gas utilities are prohibited from disconnecting consumers for 30 days after consumers apply for financial assistance to pay their bills. The ruling will give low-income Ohioans a critical protection from utility disconnections while they await processing of their financial assistance. “I am grateful to the legal aid groups who worked with us toward making a difference in the lives of Ohio families in need: Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Legal Aid Society of Southwest Ohio, the Ohio Poverty Law Center, and Pro Seniors.”
Here is a link to the PUCO press release for this order:
The Ohio Consumers’ Counsel, joined by Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, the Legal Aid Society of Southwest Ohio, the Ohio Poverty Law Center, and Pro Seniors, Inc, asked the PUCO today to suspend electric and natural gas utility disconnections of at-risk consumers who are faced with delays in the processing of bill-payment assistance for those services. The types of assistance that may have been delayed for consumers include: the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP), Winter Crisis Program, Percentage of Income Payment Plan Plus (PIPP Plus), and the Summer Crisis Program.
Here is a link to the PUCO docket with all of the participant filings and public comments for this case:
Read the filing below: