Tell the PSC to extend the utility shutoff moratorium - deadline April 2

On March 18, the Public Service Commission voted to allow the utility shutoff moratorium to expire on April 15. While the PSC assumes that the worst of the pandemic is over and those who have utility debt can find support to pay it off, a team of partners has been talking to residents in Milwaukee -- and hearing a very different story.

The PSC will have a meeting with the utilities on April 8 regarding back payments owed, but no testimony will be taken that day. Written comments are being accepted, but must be received by 1:30 p.m. Friday, April 2.

There are several ways you can comment:

1. Edit and send this action alert posted by Northside Rising

2. Write to the PSC commissioners' staff directly:

Rebecca Valcq - Joshua.Cole@wisconsin.gov

Ellen Nowak - Pamela.Cook@wisconsin.gov

Tyler Huebner - Joshua.Cole@wisconsin.gov

3. Submit your own comments directly to the PSC via their Electronic Record Filing system (ERF). The docket number is 5-UI-120. Warning: The system is complicated. You will have to create your own account, which requires a long password and email confirmation.

Here are some points you can make in your comments:

Assumptions that the COVID risk has lessened and financial support is available are based on our systems running smoothly. But this year has shown that our support systems are flawed, resulting in significant impacts on -- and harms to -- people.

COVID has disproportionately impacted people of color, who not only suffer the most illnesses and deaths, but remain at higher risk due to greater health risks and living situations, lower vaccination rates, and less access to health care.

Many people are not aware of programs to provide financial support for utility payments. Even if people are aware, agencies that are supposed to provide help in accessing these programs are often overrun and understaffed, leaving them unable to assist.

There are huge backlogs in unemployment assistance. Some people have yet to receive a single check after being unemployed for a full year. Some people, especially in poorer communities, have never received one stimulus check, and don’t know why.

Many people, especially in low income neighborhoods and communities of color, have very limited financial options as compared to others who can rely on savings, family, assets or obtaining loans to pay off debts.

Not being able to pay utility bills means people may lose lighting, heating or cooling, home medical equipment, refrigeration, cooking capabilities, hot water, and phone and internet connections, causing them to be at higher risk during the continuing pandemic.

Summer is approaching, and heat is the No. 1 cause of weather-related deaths. Urban heat islands contribute to this and are worse in many low-income neighborhoods with less tree cover. This particularly impacts elderly and those already at risk.

Census data from 2013-2018 show that many Black and Latin households in Milwaukee pay as much as 7 to 10% of household income on energy, as compared to a statewide average of 3%. Indigenous households in Wisconsin pay an average of 5.6% of their income on energy.

Thank you for taking the time to tell the PSC to extend the utility shutoff moratorium. Please make sure to get your comments in by this Friday, April 2, at 1:30 p.m.

 

Sent to WNPJ by Our Wisconsin Revolution - cathy@ourwisconsinrev.com