TRENTON, NJ — Gov. Phil Murphy announced at his COVID-19 press briefing on Thursday that he has signed an executive order extending a moratorium that prevents New Jersey residents from having their utilities disconnected through March 15, 2021.
The moratorium applies to all residential gas, electric and water utilities, both public and private. The executive order 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.
The governor and legislative leadership further announced that $15 million from the Coronavirus Relief Fund will be allocated to assisting low income households in paying off utility bills that are late.
“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.”
The governor has also extended the Internet disconnection moratorium to Nov. 15. Internet providers are prohibited from disconnecting service in households that have one or more school-age children who are using the service for educational purposes.
Additionally, 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 Nov. 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.
Although the moratorium is being extended, utility customers are still 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.