RALEIGH (May 30, 2020) – Governor Roy Cooper today announced an extension of the state’s moratorium on shutoffs for electricity, gas and water service for those who are unable to pay their utility bills due to the coronavirus pandemic. The moratorium became effective March 31, and was set to expire May 30. Dozens of public interest and social justice organizations urged the Governor to take action in a May 19 letter, citing data showing that at least 500,000 utility accounts were protected under the moratorium, sparing countless families the dire circumstances of facing the health and economic crisis without electricity, water or gas.
“We are incredibly appreciative that the utility shutoff moratorium has been extended by 60 days. It is critical to maintain the moratorium so that we can protect public health and help struggling families during this crisis. The Governor’s action gives us time to continue developing policy solutions that strike the right balance of addressing residential arrearages and financially stabilizing utilities,” said Al Ripley, Director of the North Carolina Justice Center’s Consumer, Housing & Energy Project.
“This crisis has exposed the vulnerability that hundreds of thousands of households in the state experience when it comes to affording their utility bills, even in normal times,” added Rory McIlmoil, Senior Energy Analyst for Appalachian Voices. “Today’s decision validates the severity of that problem and exhibits the Governor’s commitment to protecting North Carolina’s families and individuals during this difficult time.”
“We’re thankful that Governor Cooper has taken appropriate action to address the immediate needs of North Carolina families struggling to afford essential utilities,” said Tyler Fitch, Southeast Regulatory Manager at Vote Solar. “But an extended moratorium does not solve the problem, it only delays the repercussions of utility bill nonpayment. North Carolina must use this time to plan for the looming debt crisis and develop a bold vision for a clean energy future that permanently reduces energy burden.”
“Every household should have access to clean, running water, especially during a health crisis. Thanks to Governor Cooper’s steadfast leadership, thousands of North Carolinians won’t have to worry about their taps running dry. Extending these vital protections eliminates a heavy burden for struggling North Carolinians and will likely save thousands of lives,” said Luis Martinez, Senior Attorney and Director – Southeast Energy at Natural Resources Defense Council.
NC NAACP President Anthony Spearman published this op-ed on May 29, articulating the importance of the Governor’s extension.
Al Ripley, Director – NC Justice Center’s Consumer, Housing & Energy Project
Rory McIlmoil, Senior Energy Analyst – Appalachian Voices
Tyler Fitch, Southeast Regulatory Manager – Vote Solar
Press contact: Hilary Lewis (202) 455-0361
Luis Martinez, Senior Attorney and Director – Southeast Energy, Natural Resources Defense Council (Press contact: Maria Michalos, (631) 848-1588)