TRENTON, NJ — Gov. Phil Murphy has extended a moratorium that prevents New Jersey residents from having their utilities disconnected through March 15.
Under an executive order announced by October 15, the moratorium applies to all residential gas, electric and water utilities, both public and private. It also requires that all residential services that were disconnected after social distancing measures went into effect on March 16 be reconnected. Additionally, the utilities will not charge late fees or fees to reconnect services that have been disconnected.
Murphy also extended the Internet disconnection moratorium to November 15 and to March 15 for households that have one or more school-age children who are using the service for educational purposes. Also, if a household experiences a change of circumstances where school-age children will be using their home Internet service for school, the Internet provider will be required to reconnect that service.
After November 15, cable and telecommunications providers are required to enroll customers with an already existing account in an interest-free payment plan of at least 12 equal monthly installments, including the balance already due, prior to disconnecting the customer’s service.
Utility customers also are encouraged to set up payment plans with their utilities, so they can begin paying their bills, if they are able, over a period of time. Utility customers are also urged to apply for the assistance programs that are available at both the Board of Public Utilities and the Department of Community Affairs, and from their utilities.
“New Jerseyans are hurting and many of our fellow state residents, who have lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic need help,” Murphy said. “Extending the utility moratorium is the right thing to do as so many in our state struggle to pay their bills during one of the most devastating economic crises in the history of our country. As we enter the winter months it becomes even more imperative that we work with our state’s utilities keep the lights on and families warm.”
Noting that New Jersey was among the hardest hit states in the beginning of the pandemic, Tom Churchelow, President of the New Jersey Utilities Association (NJUA), said his organization’s members voluntarily suspended utility shutoffs for nonpayments back in March and have connected struggling customers with assistance programs and deferred payment opportunities since that time.
“We applaud the governor and the Board of Public Utilities for working with the industry to address the challenges faced by customers who are truly in need,” Churchelow said. “While we continue with the moratorium, we encourage customers to contact their utility about the new and enhanced payment and assistance plans that are available.”
Click here for Executive Order 190.
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