For Immediate Release
Today, Governor Murphy issued an executive order that extends the utility shutoff moratorium instituted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The moratorium is an important public health tool to ensure all residents have access to water and all vital utility services throughout the duration of the public health emergency. Today’s order also provides some measure of relief for families struggling to pay utility bills due to the severe economic hardships resulting from the pandemic.
A coalition of groups has been pressing the administration to extend and expand the moratorium, citing new data from the Board of Public Utilities (BPU) which found that, as of August, over 500,000 residential electric and gas accounts were 90 days or more past due. Those accounts represent over $350 million is residential utility debt.
In response, Food & Water Action New Jersey state director Matt Smith issued the following statement:
“Today’s order is a strong move by Governor Murphy to protect families struggling with the pandemic and the ensuing economic crisis. We thank him for listening to the wide range of groups that have called on his administration to make sure this moratorium was extended and expanded to include both private and public water utilities.
“Moving forward, we look forward to the Governor enacting similar protections for internet service, protections for small businesses that are facing unprecedented hardships, and working with his BPU to conduct an investigation into the scope of the crisis facing residents and businesses struggling with utility debt. This problem will require state legislators to craft policies to support the families and small businesses that cannot afford to pay their utility bills due to the ongoing economic crisis created by the pandemic. The COVID crisis is far from over, and all our political leaders must take the actions necessary to protect New Jersey and create a recovery that protects those who are facing unprecedented hardships.”