Aug 2, 2021 - News

Utility shutoffs resume for Minnesota's past-due customers

Illustration of a pattern of light switches, all of them turned on except one.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Minnesotans who are behind on their gas or power bills could soon see their service cut.

Driving the news: A moratorium on utility shutoffs enacted during the pandemic lifts Monday, meaning major power and gas companies can suspend service to residential customers who haven't paid.

  • Disconnection notices went out to impacted households earlier this summer.

The big picture: The pandemic safety net is phasing out, as protections for bill payers and renters fade away.

  • Some worry these shutoffs could compound problems for Minnesotans still struggling to recover financially, especially when more evictions can move forward later this month under the state's eviction moratorium "off-ramp."

By the numbers: Recent filings with the state's Public Utilities Commission show that hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans' balances are past due, though it's unclear how many are at risk of disconnection.

  • A Centerpoint Energy spokesperson told us about 14,000 of the company's 823,00o customers here have a balance of $500-plus and could see disruptions.

Yes, but: Your service won't be disconnected if you've applied for energy assistance or even set up a payment plan, per an agreement between companies and the PUC.

  • Consumer groups, meanwhile, are fielding an uptick in calls from residents looking for help.
  • "We've been trying to spread the word so people who are behind on their bills can get ahead of this," Carmen Carruthers, outreach director for the consumer group Citizens Utility Board of Minnesota, told us.

For those who need help, more information on assistance programs is available via the state's Department of Commerce and the Citizens Utility Board of Minnesota.


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