D.C. – U.S. Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.)
today joined Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) – ranking member of the U.S.
Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, Sen. Jeff Merkley
(D-OR), and their colleagues in sending
letters to the nation’s largest utility companies including Duke Energy, Southern
Electric Power, Xcel Energy,
Service Enterprise Group, Ameren
Hathaway Energy, American Water,
Corix Group of
Technologies. The lawmakers urged the companies to suspend all utility
shutoffs for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.
of the economic devastation wrought by the pandemic, millions of Americans are
struggling to make ends meet and are at risk for having their electricity,
water, and broadband services terminated. In order to effectively address the
concurrent public health and economic crises, the families you serve must have
uninterrupted access to these essential public services,” wrote the
letter was also signed by Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Dianne Feinstein
(D-CA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Bernard Sanders (I-VT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Tina
ext of the letter can be found below and here
write to urge you to suspend all utility shutoffs until the COVID-19 public
health emergency has ended. Because of the economic devastation wrought by the
pandemic, millions of Americans are struggling to make ends meet and are at
risk for having their electricity, water, and broadband services terminated. In
order to effectively address the concurrent public health and economic crises,
the families you serve must have uninterrupted access to these essential public
staggering number of people – almost 179 million – are at risk of having their
electricity shut off.
and gas debts alone may reach as high as $24.3 billion by the end of the year
as many Americans, through no fault of their own, cannot afford to pay even the
most essential of household bills.
Minority and low-income families who have disproportionately borne the brunt of
the current economic crisis are particularly at risk for utility shutoffs.
Foreshadowing even greater hardship,
shutoff moratoriums have expired (or were never implemented) in 33 states, and
seven more states have moratoriums that will expire next month.
Every day more people in our
communities become at risk for losing access to the water they need to wash
their hands or the electricity they need to keep the lights on.
addition, as millions of children are forced to learn remotely, the internet,
like water and electricity, is an essential public service. The Constitution
guarantees that every child has the opportunity to access public education.
Because of the pandemic, the lack of a reliable internet connection deprives
children of that right. Already, 14 percent of school-age children lack access
to an internet connection at home.
Without a moratorium on electricity and broadband disconnections, many more
children, in particular those in minority, low-income, and rural communities,
are at risk of falling behind.
support legislation that would impose a federal moratorium on all utility
shutoffs and provide federal government support to utilities for operations as
well as customers, in light of declining utility revenues caused by
unemployment, small business shutdowns, and rising poverty. In the meantime we
ask that you proactively cease all shutoffs by your companies for nonpayment
for families dealing with the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic until
such time as the President lifts the National Emergency declaration and the
states in which you operate have lifted state emergency declarations.
is imperative that Congress have access to complete data on the effect of the
coronavirus pandemic on utility services provision, in order to protect
families and our children’s future. Given the number of utility companies and
patchwork of state regulations, collecting complete and accurate data is nearly
impossible. Therefore, we ask that you provide the following data so we have a
clear understanding of the problem, on a monthly basis, from January 1, 2020,
to date by zip code and type of customer (residential, commercial, or
number of customers;
of service termination/disconnection notices issued to customers for nonpayment
of customers disconnected for nonpayment of bills;
of service restorations for customers disconnected for nonpayment of bills;
of customers that became eligible for disconnection due to nonpayment of bills
but were not disconnected;
time in between service disconnection for nonpayment of bills and service
of customers in arrears;
dollar amount and average dollar amount in arrears;
of accounts and dollar values in arrears by age of arrears (30-60 days, 60-90
and median monthly bills and standard monthly usage;
total dollar amount of late fees collected;
number of customers that paid late fees;
average late fee charged per customer subject to fees; and
description and utilization statistics on customer assistance programs.
confirm receipt of this communication and provide the expected date(s) of your
outreach plan to Jan Singelmann with Senator Brown’s office at Jan_Singelmann@banking.senate.gov
no later than November 13, 2020. Thank you for your attention to this