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News & Press: Member Services

Utility Shutoffs During COVID-19 Emergency

Thursday, March 19, 2020  
Posted by: mpuaonline
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MPUA has heard from various municipal utilities across the state who are implementing health related emergency management plans for COVID-19. To support their communities during the COVID-19 outbreak, some utilities are not shutting off customers for non-payment.

 

At the time this article was written, there is no directive from the State of Missouri regarding  utility shutoffs during the national COVID-19 emergency. However, MPUA would recommend serious consideration of these practices to protect public health and safety during this time.

 

Yesterday, media outlets began reporting that the Governor’s office is sharing that major utility providers (water, gas, and electric) have agreed not to disconnect services for lack of payment in Missouri. This undoubtedly emanates from several large utilities – Municipal, Investor-owned, and Cooperative alike – having announced such practices. MPUA respects the local decision-making but you should know that there may be future state or policy developments for shutting off utility service during a public health emergency. We fully expect that the Federal legislative response to COVID-19 to potentially include language preventing electric, gas, and water shutoffs during the national emergency. Several state lawmakers have made inquiries of MPUA on this matter as well.

 

MPUA has been in touch with the Governor’s Office and federal/state lawmakers about this matter. They understand the concerns about the operational and fiscal impact on your systems when some customers get so far behind on their payments that they many never be able to repay what they owe.  As nonprofit utilities not reliant on private investment, paying customers are the only resource available to keep system services operational for all customers. Many nonprofit systems maintain limited reserves designed for infrastructure replacement, not cash flow to buoy customer revenues.  We are heartened that congressional discussions have begun to focus on infusing substantial sums of money into LIHEAP to mitigate non-payment of utility bills.


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