BALTIMORE (August 11, 2020) – AARP Maryland is joining a growing chorus of legislators and community leaders calling on the Maryland Public Service Commission to issue an emergency order protecting households from utility gas and electric disconnections during the COVID-19 emergency.
On June 26, the Office of People’s Counsel petitioned the PSC to order utilities under its jurisdiction to suspend service disconnections until 30 days after Governor Larry Hogan declares an end to the Covid-19 Emergency (“the Moratorium Period”) and provide a grace period of 60 days beyond the Moratorium Period, which currently extends until Sept. 1, 2020.
“We are deeply concerned that the PSC will not have time to fully study the petition before the moratorium on utility cutoffs is set to expire at the end of the month,” said AARP Maryland State Director Hank Greenberg. “That is why we are calling on the commission to exercise its authority to issue an emergency order while they continue to gather information and hold hearings on this broad and complicated matter brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted nearly every aspect of daily life, causing job losses and shutdowns of government services. Unemployment claims are backlogged and continued financial support from the federal government is uncertain,” Greenberg continued. “Families are facing immense financial strain to pay for housing, utilities and food. The loss of gas or electric service can initiate a dangerous spiral, putting their very health at risk, leaving families with unsafe food storage and preparation, cutting off their access to online services and leaving many vulnerable to eviction for non-payment of utilities.”
“An Emergency Order by the PSC will also provide the state’s Office of Home Energy Programs more time to expand its capabilities to accept and process applications for bill payment and arrearage clearance assistance,” said Greenberg. “The pandemic has already caused immeasurable suffering. Now is the time for policies that support Maryland households.”
This story is provided by AARP Maryland. Visit the AARP Maryland page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.
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