The Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) today denied a League of United Latin American Citizens of Florida (LULAC) petition to initiate emergency rulemaking. LULAC requested to amend the PSC rule addressing refusal or discontinuance of electric service by investor-owned utilities (IOUs) in an effort to stop utilities from disconnecting residential customers for at least 90 days during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic the Commission has been closely watching the effects on Florida’s utility customers,” said PSC Chairman Gary Clark. “Under the Commission’s supervision, utilities have been taking steps to limit the hardships borne by customers, through payment plans, deferral arrangements, relief funding, and other options. As a result, the rule amendments requested are not necessary. It is very important for customers that are behind on bills to contact their utility to make arrangements.”
Chairman Clark added that the PSC will continue to monitor the ongoing effects of COVID-19 on customers and will take additional action if needed. Today’s denial does not prevent the Commission from initiating rulemaking at any time, if warranted, as more data is gathered and monitored. If customers have questions, they are encouraged to call the PSC’s consumer assistance line, 1-800-342-3552.
On July 29, 2020, the Commission held a workshop on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on utility customers. Electric, natural gas, and water and wastewater utilities provided information about the effect of the pandemic on their customers. On September 1, 2020, PSC staff presented the Commissioners with a summary of the July workshop and proposed certain monthly data and information to be collected from IOUs, with the first reports submitted on September 30. This data will allow the Commission to better understand the impact of the pandemic on customers’ ability to pay their bills.
The IOUs have reported to the PSC that they are continuing to reach out to customers in an effort to avoid disconnections of service.
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