Allegheny County Democratic Delegation chair, legislators call on Gov. Tom Wolf to halt all public utility disconnections in wake of the COVID-19 virus

HARRISBURG, March 13 – State Rep. Dan Miller, chairman of the Allegheny County House Democratic Delegation, and fellow ACHDD members on Friday asked Gov. Tom Wolf to place a moratorium on the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission from further shutoffs for the foreseeable future for all Pennsylvanians in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The delegation’s call to action comes by way of support for the initial request issued early Thursday by members of the Philadelphia leadership team in the state House.

Miller, as well as state Reps. Austin Davis, Dan Deasy, Tony DeLuca, House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody, Dan Frankel, Ed Gainey, Sara Innamorato, Bill Kortz, Anita Kulik, Summer Lee, Brandon Markosek, Robert Matzie, Adam Ravenstahl, Harry Readshaw and Jake Wheatley issued the following statement:

“As we speak, we’re faced with an emergency, the COVID-19 pandemic, that many have never dealt with before here in Pennsylvania. Aside from the fear and anxiety this may be causing many state residents, we as lawmakers need to be sure we’re doing everything possible to make what could be a dire situation less extreme for those living with life-threatening illnesses or in low-income situations. One way we can do that is by ensuring that all residents have access to their electric utilities, especially those who rely on their electric to power their medical equipment.

“Losing electricity would be detrimental to these residents, forcing them to go to hospitals that already need every available resource at their disposal to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, a loss of electric utilities would result in the inability for people to wash their hands, one of the main lines of defense that the state Department of Health continues to remind us is key to preventing or slowing the spread of COVID-19. We must face the facts – we’re in an unexpected situation that calls for drastic measures to best stop the spread of the virus. Due to this, we’re asking that Governor Wolf use his authority to ensure no Pennsylvania has to worry about losing utility access.”

By law, electric distribution utilities and natural gas distribution utilities are not allowed to shut off electric or gas to a consumer at or below 250% of the federal poverty level between Nov. 30 and April 1. It does allow shutoff for consumers above 250% of the federal poverty level, as well as other specific clauses regarding bill payment in conjuncture with the federal poverty level. Lawmakers are asking for all shutoffs, regardless of federal poverty level or bill payment status, to be halted.

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