Electric and gas utilities offer protections from service disconnections during certain months of the year or during certain weather conditions. Disconnection protections, however, vary widely across states and utilities. In this body of work, we track utility disconnection protections across place and time, evaluating the degree to which protections may lead to adverse health outcomes, may be inadequate with a changing climate, and may fail to protect those that are especially vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Utility disconnection protections
Electric utility disconnection policy and vulnerable populations
Utility disconnection policies vary greatly by state. These variations are often based on medical needs, time of year, temperature thresholds, and more. Even small variations can produce significant differences in protection levels.
46states offer protections for medical conditions
19states have temperature-based disconnection protections
Energy insecurity and the urgent need for utility disconnection protections
Many Americans struggle to pay their energy bills and risk utility disconnection. These struggles have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Current utility disconnection protections are varied across the nation, leaving many households vulnerable to service shutoff during the pandemic.
Based on a review of publicly-available data, we find that of the 34 mandatory state moratoria on electricity disconnections implemented, 30 have already expired, and 4 more will expire before the end of the year.
"Energy insecurity and the urgent need for utility disconnection protections," (S. Baker, S. Carley, D. Konisky), Energy Policy Volume 159, (December 2021)