Utility Shutoff Moratorium Extended Through June 30, 2021

Governor Murphy signed Executive Order 229 on March 3, 2021 extending the utility shutoff moratorium through June 30, 2021.

The order reads, in part:

1. No gas or electric public or municipal utility or privately or publicly owned water system shall discontinue any gas, electric, or water service to New Jersey residents, which includes all residential accounts and any accounts primarily serving residential customers, due to nonpayment unless the   disconnection is to prevent or ameliorate a risk to public health or safety.

2. No gas or electric public or municipal utility or privately or publicly owned water system shall collect any fee or charge imposed for late or otherwise untimely payments or service reconnections that have accrued, and will continue to accrue, during the Public Health Emergency.

3. Before disconnecting residential internet and voice services to a New Jersey resident who has an existing account with the cable or telecommunications provider as of the effective date of this Order, after the required notice of discontinuance is sent to the customer, the cable or telecommunications provider shall offer to enroll the customer in an interest-free payment plan of at least twelve equal monthly installments that includes any outstanding balance due and owing, as well as the ongoing balance for any services provided during the payment plan period, provided that nothing in this provision prevents a customer from requesting a shorter payback period.

4. A cable or telecommunications provider may provide additional flexibility to customers by offering a combined payment and payment forgiveness plan, involving forgiveness of at least 50% of the outstanding principal, in lieu of a twelve-month payment plan required by Paragraph 5 of this Order, solely upon consent of the customer by written or recorded verbal communication, pursuant to a policy approved in writing by the BPU.

5. No cable or telecommunications provider shall discontinue residential internet and voice services to a New Jersey resident who has entered into a payment plan pursuant to Paragraphs 3 or 4 of this Order so long as the customer makes timely payments under the payment plan selected by the customer.    

6. No cable or telecommunications provider shall require a down payment or deposit to enroll a customer in a payment plan pursuant to Paragraphs 3 through 5 of this Order.

7. No cable or telecommunications provider may disconnect the internet service provided to a residential account that is in effect as of the effective date of this Order that one or more school-aged children utilize for educational purposes. Prior to terminating internet service, a provider must ask the customer, either in writing or through a recorded verbal communication, whether the internet service is being used by a school-aged child for education purposes. If the customer answers in the affirmative, then the provider shall not disconnect the internet service provided to that residential account.

8. Nothing in this Order prohibits a cable or telecommunications provider from implementing a policy of continuing to provide residential internet and voice services to all customers in New Jersey subject to approval from the BPU.

9. Where internet service has been disconnected for a residential account and there has been a change of circumstances such that one or more school-aged children will be using the account for educational purposes, the provider shall, upon notification by a customer of such a change of circumstances, take immediate steps to reestablish service to that residential account. The provider shall develop and implement a process for customers to obtain reestablishment of services in those circumstances pursuant to a policy approved in writing by the BPU and shall provide notice of that policy in writing to all customers prior to the disconnection of internet services and on its website.   

10. A cable or telecommunications provider that provides residential internet and voice services to New Jersey residents pursuant to Paragraphs 8 and 9may not downgrade or otherwise reduce the quality of residential internet services while this Order remains in effect unless acting pursuant to a policy approved in writing by the BPU.

11. No cable or telecommunications provider shall seek to impose or collect any late fees, penalties or other reconnection costs on customers affected by the Public Health Emergency as a condition of maintaining service.

For details, please read EO-229.

 

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