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Utility Companies Are Lobbying Against a Federal Ban on Shut-Offs During the Coronavirus Crisis. Is Yours One of Them?

SNLS | August 16, 2020

By B.N. Frank

Utility companies, commissions, and legislators in California, Ohio, and Illinois have been getting significant press coverage lately for not acting in the best interest of the public (see 1, 2, 3).

Thanks to the Washington Post for reporting unsympathetic behavior:

Disconnections are resuming soon as the state bans expire. Duke Energy, which serves about 7.4 million electric customers across six states, went beyond other power providers in March by voluntarily suspending shut-offs and waiving late fees. But the Charlotte-based electric power company is preparing to resume disconnections in Florida, Indiana and Ohio.

“We will continue to assist customers experiencing economic hardship from the pandemic as we begin to return to standard billing and payment practices” in those states, spokesman Philip Sgro said.

AEP, too, voluntarily stopped disconnections in March. But a month later, the Columbus, Ohio-based utility was lobbying against a federal ban on shut-offs, according to a public records request obtained by the Energy and Policy Institute, a clean-energy advocacy group.

The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, which represents state public service commissioners nationwide, also opposes a federal intervention on its regulatory members’ turf.

David Pomerantz, head of the Energy and Policy Institute, says electric utilities are trying to have it both ways. “They say they’re going to do the right thing by keeping the lights and air conditioning on during summer heat waves, all while furiously lobbying behind the scenes to avoid being held accountable to that promise,” he said.

AEP has since resumed shut-offs in Oklahoma, as well as for “a very small number” of customers in Michigan, according to spokeswoman Melissa McHenry. “Disconnecting customers is always our last resort when dealing with unpaid bills, and customers who work with us on a payment plan will not be disconnected,” McHenry said.

Watkins, who gets her power from AEP in Virginia, is now attending online nursing school and is grateful AEP stopped disconnections in March. But Virginia is among the states scheduled to lift their moratoriums on Sept. 1.

“That’s good,” Watkins said. “But I’m just thinking: When they’re done doing that, the people that haven’t been able to pay or just pay a little bit, are they going to have to pay that big amount right then, or their stuff is going to be turned off?”

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Many Americans are still unaware that utility “Smart” Grids and Meters have actually increased their bills (see 1, 2). Since utility companies have installed tens of millions of “Smart” Meters – it’s likely that you already have them installed on your home even if your utility company doesn’t call them “Smart.” These meters are 2-way transmitting and allow utilities to collect customer usage data 24/7. This data is analyzed to market more products to customers and/or sell to 3rd parties.

Activist Post Recommended Book: The Age of Surveillance Capitalism

Research has determined that these meters DO NOT save meaningful amounts of energy as originally promised. Instead their installation has caused all kinds of problems including fires, explosions, health issues (see 1, 2, 3, 4), and more.

People worldwide have been opposed to these meters since they started being installed several years ago. Even if you don’t have them now – you may soon since tens of millions more are being deployed.

Activist Post reports regularly about “Smart” Meters and other unsafe technology. For more information, visit our archives and the following websites:

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Utility Companies Are Lobbying Against a Federal Ban on Shut-Offs During the Coronavirus Crisis. Is Yours One of Them?

Written by SNLS





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