Utility Shutoffs and The COVID-19 Pandemic

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Contributed date

March 21, 2021 - 10:32am

Critical Commentary

The report here shown details the utility affordability crisis that exists in the United States, with statistics on customers most affected and the degree to which low-income households face utility in-affordability. The crisis documented in the report has only been worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic and its induced hardships. The report calls for a revision in state protections for vulnerable customers by listing how energy precariousness harms the health and wellbeing of state constituents. The authors of the report also neatly present a table with different categorizations of the actions taken by states with regard to moratoria, resumed shutoff, and enacted protections for vulnerable customers. Another barrier to energy assistance, identified by other scholars and energy justice representatives, is the rigidity of economic hardship strata

Recommendations from the report include foregoing shutoffs as a form of 'punishment' and recognizing struggling customers need assistance due to the pandemic-induced crisis; increase assistance knowledge for customers; and using flexible metering systems that lower customers' monthly bills and also offering better assistance programs for debt repayment. Other recommendations offered are specific to the moratoria in place, where the authors recommend not to use time as a means for determining reinstatement of the procedures but, rather, the ongoing health crisis as a reference. A second recommendation includes using flexible and individualized arrearage management instead of issuing shutoffs.. The authors of the report suggest that it would be sound to allow constituents to self-declare economic hardships, as well as to remove punitive actions for missing payments. In their concluding remarks, the authors foresee only a worsening and exacerbation of the utility unaffordability, payment crises, and debt accumulation. 


Brashears, C., Lanckton, T., Baker, S.H. (2020, Dec). Utility shutoffs and the Covid-19 pandemic. Initiative for Energy Justice. Retrieved from https://iejusa.org/utility-shutoffs-covid-19-policy-brief/

Cite as

Colette Brashears, Talia Lanckton and Shalanda H. Baker, "Utility Shutoffs and The COVID-19 Pandemic", contributed by Briana Leone, The Energy Rights Project, Platform for Experimental Collaborative Ethnography, last modified 21 March 2021, accessed 13 July 2024. https://energyrights.info/content/utility-shutoffs-and-covid-19-pandemic