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Policy Library

Save Lives by Stopping Extreme Weather Utility Shutoffs

When extreme weather strikes, a utility denying power over a billing dispute can risk the lives of seniors, children and anyone with a medical condition. A problem with your utility bill should not lead to a life threatening situation, and there’s no reason for utilities to voluntarily shut-off people’s power during these extreme weather events. By preventing utilities from denying service during episodes of extreme weather, the “No Extreme Weather Shutoffs Act” sets clear rules for when a shut-off is safe, and when it’s simply too dangerous.

The National Landscape

Passed in:

Georgia, Illinois, Maryland

In The News

“With just $15.31 in her account and the outside thermometer showing 27 degrees, Mary Garcia composed a plea to Lite-Up Texas: ‘Please … I am going to freeze during this cold season.’”
“‘We were very surprised at how steeply and quickly the number of days of dangerous heat increased in such a short time...I don’t think anyone appreciated how quickly conditions can change,’ Kristina Dahl, senior climate scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), and co-author of the report ‘Killer Heat in the United States: Climate Choices and the Future of Dangerously Hot Days.’”

Partners

  • Senior citizen advocates
  • Advocates for people with disabilities
  • Child welfare advocates

Opposition

  • Utilities that want to maximize the leverage of power shutoffs, even if it risks lives
Call us for real-time support using this library, problem-solving tips, and follow-up from our team of national experts:
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FAQ

Who does this help?
Children, seniors, pregnant women, and those with health conditions are particularly impacted by extreme temperatures. This policy provides peace of mind for everyone who worries about the safety of their loved ones during extreme weather.
Is this high cost to the state or consumers?
No. The cost to the state is zero, and the cost to utilities should be minimal to provide service that would have otherwise been shutoff during extreme weather events. The state’s regulator would have no reasonable basis to increase customer rates.
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Model Policy

SECTION 1 (TITLE):
This act shall be known as the No Extreme Weather Shutoffs Act.

SECTION 2 (PURPOSE):
To prevent utility shutoffs when extreme weather means such shutoffs would have life-threatening impacts

SECTION 3 (PROVISIONS):

(a) "Affected Entities" means entities that deliver energy that powers heating or cooling to a residential property.

(b) As of 90 days after passage of this Act, Affected Entities may not shut off or stop energy delivery to a residential property on days when, with regard to the location where the meter is located:
  • (i) A state of emergency has been declared by a governmental unit due to weather; or
  • (ii) Temperatures have reached levels established by DEPARTMENT [with responsibility for public health in state] which, based on best available scientific evidence and research, energy shutoff would be a threat to health and safety.

(c) Within 60 days of passage of this Act, and annually thereafter DEPARTMENT [with responsibility for public health in state] shall:
  • (i) Issue emergency regulations establishing temperatures at which, based on best available scientific evidence and research, energy shutoff would be a threat to health and safety; and
  • (ii) Establish a process to make such temperature declarations available on its website and communicate them to Affected Entities. However, a failure of Affected Entities to receive such notice does not relieve the requirements of section (b) above.

(d) DEPARTMENT [with responsibility for utility regulation] shall have enforcement authority over Affected Entities for violation of these provisions.