On Friday, March 13th, 2020, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (the “PUC”) issued an Emergency Order establishing a moratorium on the termination of utility services, including electric, natural gas, water, wastewater, telecommunications, and steam, for all entities which are under the jurisdiction of the PUC.
Tom Wolf’s Proclamation
This Emergency Order was in direct response to Governor Tom Wolf’s Proclamation of Disaster Emergency on March 6th, 2020, which authorized and directed the suspension of “the provisions of any regulatory statute prescribing the procedures for conduct of Commonwealth business, or the orders, rules or regulations of any Commonwealth agency, if strict compliance with the provisions … would in any way prevent, hinder, or delay necessary action in coping with this emergency.”
While many municipalities provide utilities, most are not regulated by the PUC, and the Emergency Order therefore does not apply to those municipalities. Some municipalities, however, work with PUC-regulated entities in situations where, for example, the municipality provides sewer services and a PUC-regulated entity provides water service to the same customers. In this situation, the municipality providing sewer service often relies on the PUC-regulated entity to shut off water service if a sewer bill is not paid.
Delinquent Account Holders
It is important for those municipalities that partner with a PUC-regulated entity to understand what their options are to collect any amount owed to them by delinquent account holders, while ensuring that they are not in violation of the Emergency Order issued by the PUC and taking into account the significant losses in the income of customers that are likely to occur as a result of COVID-19.
CGA Law Firm Stands Ready
The attorneys of CGA Law Firm stand ready to advise you as this rapidly changing situation continues to evolve. If you have any questions about how your municipality can ensure timely collection of the amounts owed to it, while staying within the guidelines of the Emergency Order issued by the PUC, please contact a member of the CGA Municipal Group at (717) 848-4900.
Click HERE to view Emergency Order.