If you cannot pay your gas or electric bill during the COVID-19 pandemic because of a financial hardship, here is what you can do:
Call the utility company before you are shut off and tell them that you have a financial hardship. Say that you want to keep your gas and/or electricity on and ask to make a reasonable and affordable payment plan. You should have an idea of how much you think you can pay each month for the next 2 years and let the representative know what that amount is.
If the customer service representative does not agree, ask to speak with a supervisor. Explain your financial hardship to the supervisor and tell them what you can afford to pay each month over the next 2 years.
If the supervisor does not agree with you, ask to speak with the company review officer. If the company review officer does not agree to a payment amount that you say you can afford, next you can call the Public Utility Regulatory Agency (PURA).
PURA’s toll free number is 1-800-382-4586. Explain your financial situation to the person at their consumer help line and ask them to help you make a reasonable and affordable payment arrangement with the utility company.
You can also get help from Statewide Legal Services by calling their toll-free hotline at 1-800-453-3320.
If you have a medical condition that requires a utility to be on at all times, you might have protections from being shut off by your utility company. If you have such a condition, ask your doctor if they can provide information to the utility company to protect you from a shut off.
You can also be protected from a shut off if there is a child up to 24 months old living in the household
- who has been admitted to the hospital, and
- got discharge papers from a doctor that say utility service is needed for the health and wellbeing of the child.
Ask the customer service person at the utility company where you should send your hospital paperwork.
The State of Connecticut has an energy assistance program that can help pay some of your heating costs during the winter months. Although sign-up for that program has ended for the 2019-2020 heating season, be sure you sign up with your local community action agency to apply for energy assistance for the 2020-2021 heating season beginning in August 2020.
If you are receiving benefits from the Department of Social Services or other state and federal agencies, you may be able to be coded as a financial hardship utility customer and get shut off protection for the winter moratorium, which runs between November 1 and May 1. Contact your local community action agency or call 2-1-1 for more information.