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Press Release Baker-Polito Administration Increases Customer Protections for Gas and Electric Service

Utility Shutoff Moratorium Extended to August 31 for Businesses and November 15 for Residents
For immediate release:
7/31/2020
  • Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
  • Department of Public Utilities
  • Electric Power Division
  • Gas Division
  • Consumer Division

Media Contact for Baker-Polito Administration Increases Customer Protections for Gas and Electric Service

Katie Gronendyke

BOSTONAs part of the Baker-Polito Administration’s efforts to protect ratepayers, the Department of Public Utilities (DPU) has issued an Order instituting increased protections for customers of electric and gas utilities and extending the prohibition on investor-owned utility companies shutting off gas and electric utility service to any customers for nonpayment. The Order is the result of recommendations from the Customer Assistance and Ratemaking Working Group, which is composed of consumer advocate groups, the Attorney General’s Office, the Department of Energy Resources, and utility companies.

“This Order will help protect the residents and businesses that have faced economic hardships during the pandemic, while ensuring continued reliable gas and electric service,” said DPU Chairman Matthew Nelson. “By implementing new customer protection requirements, the Baker-Polito Administration is  providing a safety net for residents and small businesses as we move toward a new normal in the Commonwealth.”

As a result of proposals from the Customer Assistance and Ratemaking Working Group, the Order extends the shutoff moratorium for gas and electric service until August 31, 2020 for Commercial & Industrial (C&I) customers and November 15, 2020 for residential customers.

Additionally, the Order implements important new ratepayer protection provisions, including:

  • Utility companies cannot assess late fees or discontinue service to customers enrolled in a payment plan. 
  • To ensure customers have notice of any potential shutoff, companies are required, in advance of any potential shutoff, to issue notices to customers that inform customers about the payments due, the availability of payment plans, and the potential for shutoffs. 
  • Companies must continue waiving late payment fees for small C&I customers for six months following the date that Governor Baker lifts the State of Emergency. 
  • Companies are required to waive any previously required “good faith payments” in circumstances where a customer re-enrolls in an arrearage management plan (AMP) after breaking from a prior AMP.

On May 11, 2020, DPU issued an Order establishing a Customer Assistance and Ratemaking Working Group to report on recommendations for customer assistance policies and practices, including proposals such as extended payment plans, enhanced arrearage management plans, customer outreach, waived late of fees, and moratorium continuation. 

The Working Group is composed of the Department of Energy Resources, the Office of the Attorney General, the National Consumer Law Center, the Low-Income Energy Affordability Network, the Associated Industries of Massachusetts, Unitil, National Grid, Eversource Energy, Columbia Gas of Massachusetts, Liberty Utilities, Massachusetts Electric Company and Nantucket Electric Company, The Berkshire Gas Company, and Blackstone Gas Company.

Investor-owned water companies remain prohibited from shutting off water service due to nonpayment, and the DPU is currently working to address water companies separately.

To support ratepayers during the COVID-19 pandemic, on March 24 the DPU issued an Order temporarily prohibiting investor-owned utility companies from shutting off gas, electric, and water utility service to any customers for failure to pay a bill or a portion of a bill.

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Media Contact for Baker-Polito Administration Increases Customer Protections for Gas and Electric Service

Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs 

EEA seeks to protect, preserve, and enhance the Commonwealth’s environmental resources while ensuring a clean energy future for the state’s residents. Through the stewardship of open space, protection of environmental resources, and enhancement of clean energy, the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs works tirelessly to make Massachusetts a wonderful place to live, work, and raise a family.

Department of Public Utilities 

The Department of Public Utilities (DPU) oversees investor-owned electric power, natural gas, and water companies in Massachusetts. In addition, the DPU regulates the safety of bus companies, moving companies, and transportation network companies. We also oversee the safety of natural gas pipelines.

Electric Power Division 

The mission of the Electric Power Division is to ensure that electric distribution companies in Massachusetts provide their customers with the most reliable resource at the lowest possible cost. EPD also oversees and implements initiatives that encourage clean and renewable energy.

Gas Division 

The mission of the Gas Division is to ensure that gas companies in Massachusetts provide their customers with the most reliable resource at the lowest possible cost.

Consumer Division 

The Consumer Division of the Department of Public Utilities (DPU) assists consumers with their utility companies through dispute resolution, evaluation of regulatory compliance and customer service, and education. Contact us if you need help resolving a problem with your electric, gas, or investor-owned water utility.
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