John C. Baker, California Public Utilities Commission --
In a unanimous decision, the CPUC last week suspended disconnections of residential and small business customers for an additional three months, through Sept. 30, 2021.
This provides time for energy utilities to notify customers of a new CPUC solution to resolving COVID-19 era utility bill debt, which provides residential customers two years over which to pay off deferred energy bills, with help anticipated to become available in the California state budget. Similar relief was ordered for small businesses.
Retaining access to electricity and natural gas service remains critical to public health. Without the CPUC’s intervention, residential utility customers with energy utility bill arrearages would face balloon payments and risk losing their utility service if they fail to negotiate with their utility when the disconnection moratorium [ended] on June 30, 2021.
Under the decision, customers of the large investor-owned utilities with arrearages over 60 days old will automatically be enrolled in 24-month payment plans, with an opt-out for customers who do not want to be enrolled in the payment plans. Nothing prevents customers enrolled in payment plans from applying funding from relief programs.