We need your support to help protect the public health of our families, friends and neighbors during and beyond the COVID-19 crisis.
Yesterday the RI Public Utilities Commission (PUC) issued Order No. 23786 suspending service terminations and collection activities of all regulated electric, natural gas, water and sewer utilities during the COVID-19 Emergency. But the full length of the suspension is still up in the air.

The George Wiley Center encouraged the PUC to put in place a permanent moratorium against utility terminations and to improve accessibility to utilities. We asked for emergency restoration for all. The PUC responded to our and others concerns by stating: All electric, natural gas, water, and sewer utilities shall immediately cease certain collections activities, as set forth herein, including termination of service for nonpayment. Through April 15, any residential customer whose utility service has been terminated by National Grid for non-payment or who has a Termination date scheduled will be entitled to have such service restored by National Grid upon satisfaction of certain conditions”

The conditions that the PUC put in place for restoration was a decrease in the down payment to allow for 10% of the balance owed to be paid for utility restoration .

We welcome the steps that the PUC has taken to reduce the percentage of the payment of debt required for restoration of utilities as well as the expansion of the Winter Moratorium to all residential customers, rather than just protected categories.

During these critical times, the public must ask for more. We need your help to call for the restoration of all low-income households without requiring any down payment . Some municipalities are demanding, and Water Authorities around the country are restoring access to utilities without payment. A public health crisis is not the time to line National Grid pocket's with more profits at the cost of the public’s health. People require the immediate restoration of electricity, gas and water to gain access to hot water and to help prevent the spread of the virus .

What you can do now!
Your public comments can make a difference in determining the span and scope of protections. Please encourage the RI PUC to extend the moratorium on low-income utility customers beyond April 15, 2020. 

Here are three quick steps you can take today to protect low-income utility consumers in Rhode Island and promote energy justice during this health crisis, and beyond. Your input can challenge the unjust lack of access to utilities and unfair billing processes that put low-income families deeper in debt.
1)    Submit Public Comments via email to Luly Massaro, RI PUC Clerk at : luly.massaro@puc.ri.gov and cc : georgewileycenterri@gmail.com

Please take a moment to demand the below actions:
Put these requests into your own words about why these demands are important.

-       Permanent moratorium on shut offs for low-income households Now is time for RI to lead on this issue and break the cycle of unfair shut offs on low-income families who have for too long have been forced to pay disproportionately higher utilities compared to more affluent households.

-       Emergency Utility Restoration for all low-income households without any down payment The RI PUC passed a 10% deposit of back bill down for restoration which we support for affluent households but we demand that those who can’t afford the 10% (those eligible for LIHEAP assistance) should not be punished with higher health risks based on their inability to pay a 10% deposit to profit the utility company. The RI PUC should mandate that all utilities restore electric, gas and water to low-income households. RI needs to follow the lead of water departments who have agreed to reconnect household currently without running water without fees to tackle the coronavirus pandemic .

-       Immediate implementation of the Percentage Income Payment Plan (PIPP) Although with this order the RI PUC says that: “ Utilities are encouraged to offer flexible payment plans to all customers facing financial hardship, even short-term, during this time.” We know that utilities need clear instruction and enforcement. Therefore, we expect our public officials to be more specific and to order that utilities not charge LIHEAP eligible consumers more than 2% of their income for electric and not charge a total of more than 4% of their income for electric and heat or electric and gas.
- We expect National Grid to voluntary agree to these fairer percentages to avoid adding regressive costs to low-income households’ energy burden. National Grid should stop jeopardizing the health of low-income households who continue to suffer from disproportionately high utility costs because of the lack of a Percentage Income Payment.
-      Today’s health crisis hits homes on fixed incomes extra hard, that is why we need a tiered income-sensitive approach. It is time fight the forces of regulatory capture and for energy officials to prove their accountability and allegiance to the people of Rhode Island rather than to utility profiteers.

2) Share your comments on social media networks

- Twitter RIDPUC tag @georgewileycri


- Instagram tag @georgewileycenter

Use hashtags below along with your comments &/or create others:

#RestorationNOW #PIPPNOW #EnergyJusticeRI #ENDUtilityShutoffs2020
#georgewileycenter @georgewileycenteri


3)    Share the PIPP Petition

If you haven’t already, please sign the PIPP petition and then share the petition for PIPP with others. We need to continue to grow our base of support as we demand a response from the RI PUC

Why we need a permanent moratorium & PIPP
WHY WE NEED A PERMANENT LOW-INCOME MORATORIUM ON SHUT-OFFS
The George Wiley Center has consistently advocated to extend the Winter Moratorium from April 15 to May 1, but due to the health crisis we are requesting a permanent indefinite moratorium on utility terminations to all low-income households. We propose that LIHEAP eligibility be the requirement and that this permanent moratorium last indefinitely. We encourage you to submit comments to encourage a permanent moratorium on low-income household to be reviewed at it’s earliest in October 2020.

WHY WE NEED PIPP NOW!

We ask you to encourage the leadership necessary for the immediate implementation of a Percentage Income Payment Plan (PIPP). To go on any longer without a PIPP in place will have an amplifying effect on low-income people’s bills. We need the RI PUC to no longer wait to bring back an income sensitive tiered program otherwise this crisis will add up to more hardship for low-income utility consumers. The PUC and Division should do everything necessary to immediately implement a PIPP, as advocated by the George Wiley Center. A PIPP would help avoid the impact of unfair payment structures that will harm our families.


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