Utilities urged to extend financial hardship moratorium - CBS 3 Springfield - WSHM

Utilities urged to extend financial hardship moratorium

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Secretary of the Commonwealth William F. Galvin. Secretary of the Commonwealth William F. Galvin.

We're approaching the start of spring, but it feels like the middle of winter and many are struggling to pay for heat and are seeking help.

Government officials are making moves to help the cause.

Secretary of the Commonwealth William F. Galvin on Monday urged Massachusetts public utilities to extend the financial hardship moratorium on shutting off gas and electric home heating service to April 15, according to a news release sent to CBS 3 from the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth.

Between Nov. 15 and March 15, state law prevents utilities from turning off service to customers in residential buildings for failure to pay if the failure is caused by financial hardship.

"This winter has been harsh and slow to depart. People are having to pay more to heat their houses and apartments than they expected, or probably budgeted for. Extending the moratorium, as was done in two of the past three winters, will give customers some breathing room to cope with those higher prices," said Galvin, co-sponsor of the 1979 legislation that became that law.

A recent U.S. Energy Department report, which said the northeast was 13 percent colder than last year, estimated that those who heat with oil will pay 7 percent more than last winter. Those who use natural gas will pay 10 percent more and those who use electricity will be 5 percent more. Those who use propane – mostly rural customers in this region – will pay 54 percent more than they did last winter, according to the news release.

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