Norm Needleman


Norm Needleman



February 6, 2023

Sen. Needleman Introduces Legislation To Extend PURA Ratepayer Shutoff Moratorium Through October 31, Provide Additional Protections For Customers

With many families around Connecticut still struggling with high costs, inflation and the after-effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, State Senator Norm Needleman (D-Essex), Senate Chair of the Energy & Technology Committee, has introduced legislation to extend the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority’s shutoff moratorium for ratepayers struggling to make ends meet through October 31. The bill would extend the moratorium that currently is expected to end on May 1.

“Almost three years after the start of the pandemic, our state still has a moratorium on utility shutoffs, protecting many from further financial harm,” said Sen. Needleman. “However, in that time, there have been other financial pressures only adding to the gravity of the situation in countless households. Extending the moratorium through to the fall would more time for thousands of Connecticut households to work toward paying their bills and prevent winter or summer shutoffs when heating and air conditioning are increasingly necessary.”

“This bill goes further,” Sen. Needleman continued. “It would allow up to three years of amortization, or longer, regarding interest on unpaid balances of customers delinquent bills. The bill also allows PURA to distribute up to $1 million per year to organizations or individuals providing legal services, who would aid residents negotiating with service companies when attempting to determine payback plans and interest on unpaid balances. These changes will provide more reasonable payback terms for customers, preventing financial cliffs that could threaten their stability.”

Senate Bill 198, “An Act Concerning The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority Shutoff Moratorium and Payment Terms for Delinquent Utility Customers,” would amend the general statutes to extend PURA’s utility shutoff moratorium for hardship customers until October 31, 2023. It would further adjust existing guidelines allowing for PURA to provide account interest amortization for up to 36 months or longer for utility customers, allowing for longer-term payoff plans. PURA would also gain the ability to distribute up to $1 million per year to legal services providers to support customers with utility bill or arrearage payments, including helping customers negotiating the amortization periods of up to three years or longer.

In late August 2022, state regulators again extended the shut-off moratorium that began in March 2020. Currently, the moratorium is planned to end in May; lawmakers have not set a defined date for a potential extension, but such an extension would prevent utility companies from threatening customers with power shutoffs upon its end. In August 2022, Connecticut utilities reported as much as $171 million in bills overdue by more than 60 days, but nearly 25,000 low-income customers would potentially lose electric or gas service. Advocates for low-income customers said at the time that utilities could use overdue bills to press the finances of those customers in an attempt to receive payment.