The economic fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic is hitting communities of color and lower-income people especially hard, and has brought into stark focus the plight of thousands of families who have long paid a disproportionally high percentage of their household income on energy bills. Appalachian Voices and our partners are pressing state and federal leaders and utilities to enact and maintain bans on shutting off utilities. We’re making progress, but there is still more to do.
In this April 17 video, we share the stories of two families whose lives were made even more stressful when they couldn’t afford to pay their utility bills.
- July 30: The NC Utilities Commission extended its moratorium (covering only investor-owned utilities such as Duke Energy) to September 1, and required utilities to give customers 12 months to pay off debt, including any debt incurred prior to the start of its moratorium, March 19.
- July 29: Despite urgent calls from social justice advocates, Gov. Cooper let his statewide shutoff moratorium expire, with no additional protections for vulnerable households. Utilities are still required to give customers at least six months to pay off any debt accrued since the governor’s moratorium began March 31.
- July 26: Op-ed by Appalachian Voices’ Josh McClenney, NC Field Coordinator, is printed in Charlotte Observer; As a moratorium on utility shutoffs ends, NC’s poor face a loss or water and electricity
- May 30: Gov. Cooper extends shutoff moratorium, as urged by Appalachian Voices and dozens of other public interest groups
- Energy Justice for NC utility tracker
- Follow EJNC on Facebook
- Tell Governor Bill Lee to stop utility shutoffs!
- Tennessee Valley Energy Democracy Movement utility tracker
- Follow the TVEDM on Facebook
- Take our short survey if you or someone you know has had utility service disconnected.
- August 18: General Assembly convenes a special session on Covid and the state budget, and is expected to consider the issue of utility shutoffs and debt repayment.
- July 17: Governor Northam called for the General Assembly to convene a special session August 18 to discuss the budget, among other things. With the state’s shutoff moratorium expiring August 31, it’s expected the legislature will discuss the crisis of utility debts incurred due to Covid-19.
- June 12: The State Corporation Commission extended the utility shutoff moratorium through August 31.
- June 5: Appalachian Voices’ filed a request with the State Corporation Commission to expand the current moratorium. More than 50 state legislators and Attorney General Mark Herring also urged the SCC to expand the moratorium
- We’re calling for a federal program to pay off utilities’ bill debts for their customers and help utilities recoup lost revenue. Read more here.
- July 21, Raleigh News & Observer: Are your utility bills past due because of COVID-19? Prepare to pay as NC order expires
- May 4, Winston-Salem Journal op-ed by Appalachian Voices and Center for Biological Diversity: COVID exposes energy burden, deep wealth disparities
- April 14, HuffPo: She Begged For Mercy. The Utility Cut Her Elderly Parents’ Power Anyway.
- April 11, HuffPo: She’s A Furloughed Single Mom Of 3. The Utility Is Shutting Off Her Power Anyway.
- March 30, Appalachian Voices’ blog: Utilities must suspend service disconnections and waive late fees