For Immediate Release, March 19, 2020

In Coronavirus Crisis, 575 Groups Urge Halt to Electricity, Water Shutoffs

Letter to Governors, Utility Regulators Also Calls for Distributed Clean Energy, Equitable Water Payment Systems

WASHINGTON— Turtle Island Restoration Network joined more than 575 utility justice, labor, faith, consumer and environmental groups urged state governors, mayors and utility regulators today to put a moratorium on electricity and water-utility shutoffs in response to the coronavirus crisis and resulting job losses.

Today’s letter also called for deeper policy changes that deploy distributed solar and establish percentage-of-income water-payment systems to address the systemic issues leading to shutoffs.

The coronavirus crisis will likely cause widespread job losses across America, disproportionately hurting low-wealth households, communities of color, and American Indian and Alaska Native communities. These families face difficulties in affording basic utility services, and some have already been disconnected from water and electricity.

Fewer than half of all states and a handful of cities have imposed moratoria on shutoffs over various utilities. According to the Energy and Policy Institute and Food & Water Watch, some electricity and water providers have also voluntarily enacted moratoria on shutoffs, though the majority of the nation’s 3,300 power utilities have not, including energy giant Alabama Power.

Even if moratoria have been implemented, they vary significantly in impact. Many moratoria fail to waive late fees, are short in duration, do not apply to all customer classes, and have no promises to reconnect disconnected customers to these services.

In addition to the call for moratoria, the groups also urge state leaders to tackle the systematic issues driving common utility shutoffs. These include committing to policies that increase the deployment of distributed clean energy systems and that establish percentage-of-income payment plans for water and other utility services, which enhance long-term energy and climate resilience for all families.

Turtle Island Restoration Network is a leading advocate for the world’s oceans and marine wildlife whose mission is to inspire and mobilize people around the world to protect marine biodiversity and the oceans that sustain all life on Earth.