Recognizing that COVID-19 may result in economic hardships for their customers, many public power utilities are suspending power shutoffs to ensure that their customers have power during this pandemic and are “working around the clock to ensure the continued delivery of power to their communities while also ensuring the health and safety of their employees,” said Joy Ditto, President and CEO of the American Public Power Association, in a letter to Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.
The March 17 letter responded to a request from Harris that APPA provide details on how public power utilities are adressing power shutoffs in the wake of the pandemic.
“Many public power utilities are suspending power shutoffs to ensure that their customers have power during this pandemic,” wrote Ditto. “As community-owned, not-for-profit electric utilities, public power utilities understand this crisis may result in economic hardships for their customers, especially lower- and fixed-income customers.”
She noted that in APPA’s quick survey of members, many have publicly announced suspending power shutoffs during the outbreak.
Ditto said in her letter that electric utilities are also asking their customers to contact their customer service representatives if they are having difficulty making payments so they can assist customers either by putting them on payment plans or putting them in contact with state entities that operate low-income energy assistance programs.
“Some members who responded to our survey noted while they had not yet suspended power shutoffs, they were meeting this week to discuss the issue and develop policies,” she wrote.
APPA has set up a webpage that provides information and resources for its members related to COVID-19 and updates on how this affects APPA programs and events.