Vermont lifting ban on utility shut-offs October 15

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A Pacific Gas & Electric lineman repairing a power line in fire-ravaged Paradise, California on November 26, 2018. (AP / Rich Pedroncelli)

MONTPELIER, Vt. (NEWS10) — Vermont’s Public Utility Commission will lift temporary moratoriums on utility service disconnections starting Thursday. At the same time, the Commission says it has ordered new, mandatory economic protections for involuntary utility customers facing pandemic hardships.

The Public Utility Commission announced they were ending the moratorium, which went into effect on March 18, on Thursday afternoon. In the months since it went into effect, the Commission has extended and expanded the moratorium.

Vermont’s Department of Public Service started the Vermont COVID-19 Arrearage Assistance Program on August 18. This program provides federal funds to utilities customers with past-due balances. Through VCAAP, the Department plans to distribute up to $8 million to minimize or eliminate those balances, so long as they came about due to COVID-19.

If those customers do not apply for assistance, VCAAP funds expire in December. Utilities customers with past-due coronavirus balances have to apply or respond to utility outreach in order to take advantage of the funds, but many have not done so.

By ending the moratorium, the Commission hopes customers will work with their utility providers to access the time-sensitive VCAAP funds. To protect consumers after the moratorium is lifted, the Commision will implement new emergency rules utilities must follow when seeking disconnections, like payment plans and notices about the VCAAP availability.

If you have a past-due balance brought on by the pandemic, visit the Public Service Department website for application details on the VCAAP.

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