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Urbana city council calls on Pritzker to enact utility disconnection moratorium

Wednesday, Oct 28, 2020

* WICS

The Urbana City Council is calling on Gov. JB Pritzker to enact a mandatory moratorium on utility disconnections.

This comes after the council passed a resolution to prioritize making utility shutoffs a safety risk.

Mayor Diane Wolfe Marlin hand-delivered the resolution to the governor’s staff on Tuesday, Oct. 27, while Pritzker made a stop in Champaign. […]

“I don’t have the ability to simply put a moratorium in a place like that,” Pritzker said. “What we did do was go to the ICC and have them work with all of the utilities to try to have a moratorium on shutoffs.” […]

“I was surprised to hear him say that he didn’t have the power to do that,” Marlin said.

Thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller        

20 Comments
  1. - Sox Fan - Wednesday, Oct 28, 20 @ 8:43 am:

    I hope I’m not overreacting, but I feel like if the governor can enforce an eviction moratorium on mom and pop landlords, he should be able to enforce a similar moratorium on utilities who can likely handle the short-term loss of revenue easier


  2. - cermak_rd - Wednesday, Oct 28, 20 @ 8:56 am:

    We still have some little electric-cooperatives (Moultrie comes to mind) can they afford to run without payment? Or does that situation where the rate payers are the owners differ in that case?


  3. - Just Another Anon - Wednesday, Oct 28, 20 @ 9:21 am:

    Interesting to see that Governor Pritzker suddenly believes in limits to his power when it involves ComEd….


  4. - JoanP - Wednesday, Oct 28, 20 @ 9:39 am:

    I’m always amused by people who think that because the Governor can do X, he must be able to do Y.


  5. - Nagidam - Wednesday, Oct 28, 20 @ 9:51 am:

    ===Interesting to see that Governor Pritzker suddenly believes in limits to his power when it involves ComEd….===

    I believe ComEd has had a self-imposed moratorium on shutoffs the entire pandemic.


  6. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Oct 28, 20 @ 10:00 am:

    === I believe ComEd has had a self-imposed moratorium on shutoffs the entire pandemic.===

    That ended in late September, as of this moment, billing and payments by ComEd are being collected or face disconnection.


  7. - Precinct Captain - Wednesday, Oct 28, 20 @ 10:56 am:

    Should’ve called Tom DeVore


  8. - 1st Ward - Wednesday, Oct 28, 20 @ 11:11 am:

    The Crains article on Friday provides context to the peril of constituent finances in the State. The article states 20% of Nicor and Comed customers received late payments in September. Shut-offs are resuming when winter is fast approaching and re-instated mitigation efforts are occurring limiting job prospects for lower wage workers in the service industry. Even if he doesn’t have the power he should say that he is working with the ICC and utilities on extending a moratorium. How can you shut-off someone’s heat in these times? The utility can set-off the costs in upping the bills of the individuals able to pay. I’ll pay $6 or $8 a month instead of $4 per month on the utilities bad debt to avoid shut-offs. Governing is hard but figure it out.

    https://www.chicagobusiness.com/utilities/one-way-measure-depth-pandemic-pain


  9. - Nagidam - Wednesday, Oct 28, 20 @ 11:27 am:

    Thanks OW


  10. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Oct 28, 20 @ 11:31 am:

    - Nagidam -

    You’re welcome.

    I’m waiting for the stories to begin in earnest as people find themselves thinking a moratorium is in place…

    Be well.


  11. - ChicagoMike - Wednesday, Oct 28, 20 @ 11:38 am:

    If you can shut down private businesses, you can enact legislation to regulate the policies and procedures of a utility company who serve the public. Like @JustAnotherAnon said, comes to ComEd…no authority. Interesting.

    Also, ComEd has not imposed a moratorium on shut offs. I haven’t payed my bill in months and just received a note saying they would shut off service by 10/29 (time to pay!!)


  12. - Unconventionalwisdom - Wednesday, Oct 28, 20 @ 12:07 pm:

    So if there are moratoriums on cutoffs, Who Pays the bills.

    So for those advocating this measure what is your plan?

    Running a utility company is not done with fairy dust.


  13. - Huh? - Wednesday, Oct 28, 20 @ 12:34 pm:

    I have been fortunate to be employed during this crisis. So I continue to pay my bills, even the student loans that have been put on moratorium by the feds.

    What I can’t understand is how people who are employed would think of not paying their bills.

    In 2010 I was laid off due to the economy. I didn’t work until November 2011. It was a struggle to live on $395/week and pay the bills. But I did it.

    I do not understand the calls for rent strikes, bans on evictions, or utility disconnection bans.


  14. - thechampaignlife - Wednesday, Oct 28, 20 @ 1:14 pm:

    A moratorium for just those drawing unemployment, or whose income has dropped more than 20% AND is under median income, might be reasonable. A blanket moratorium for everyone gives too much leeway to defer bills they could afford. The same criteria should be used for rent payments.


  15. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Oct 28, 20 @ 1:18 pm:

    ===or whose income has dropped more than 20% AND is under median income, might be reasonable===

    That would just be way too costly and bulky to administer.


  16. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Oct 28, 20 @ 1:27 pm:

    The problem, the major and significant problem is the utility’s ability to provide relief reasonably to the marketplace.

    As the stress on the economy, caused by the virus, continues, you can’t ask for relief as a marketplace and at the same time the stressed marketplace wanting to *not* alleviate the stress of spread and infections with the marketplace (the community) saying no to masks, a want of open businesses and schools, and pretending the stopping of the spread won’t help us all.

    This isn’t an indictment of Urbana or any muni or governing “area”, it’s a reminder that, yeah, a moratorium “would” be helpful to the effected, but we need to reduce the stress of the effected by… reducing the spread.


  17. - 1st Ward - Wednesday, Oct 28, 20 @ 1:52 pm:

    “So if there are moratoriums on cutoffs, Who Pays the bills.”

    I suggest you look at your utility bill more closely. The flat monthly customer charge includes a line item called UEA or uncollectable expense adjustment. Utilities are able to pass along a fee for uncollectable/past-due bills to the customers that are paying based on their rate formula. My Peoples bill lists a $4.25 charge for this.


  18. - thechampaignlife - Wednesday, Oct 28, 20 @ 2:18 pm:

    ===That would just be way too costly and bulky to administer.===

    I mean, IDOR has withholding data as a rough estimate of income. And the utilities typically have an SSN. Simply spin up a webpage where a utility can run a list of SSNs against the state’s list. If there is a match on a deliquent account, the utility does not disconnect. With nothing but a 9 digit number submitted and a Y/N response returned, there is no security risk. There might be some edge cases missed (someone without an SSN/ITIN, changes to withholding, etc.), but this would cover the majority of need with minimal effort.


  19. - Notorious RBG - Wednesday, Oct 28, 20 @ 2:58 pm:

    It’s my understanding from the ICC’s press release that most regulated utilities have agreed to extend the moratorium shut off to anyone who is experiencing a financial hardship due to the pandemic.

    https://www.icc.illinois.gov/downloads/public/State%20Regulated%20Utility%20Moratorium%20Extended%20for%20Eligible%20Customers%20PR.pdf


  20. - 1st Ward - Wednesday, Oct 28, 20 @ 3:06 pm:

    JCAR says electric and gas utility shutoffs are illegal between December 1 - March 31 for residential heating services with some carve-outs requiring deferred payment agreements to be in place.

    https://www.ilga.gov/commission/jcar/admincode/083/083002800I01350R.html


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