Utilities object to halt in disconnections

Arguing that turning off customers’ electricity is a “last resort,” four major utilities said Tuesday that a proposal to place at least a 90-day moratorium on disconnections because of the COVID-19 pandemic is unnecessary.

Florida Power & Light, Gulf Power, Duke Energy Florida and Tampa Electric Co. filed documents at the state Public Service Commission pushing back against a proposed emergency rule change that would halt disconnections for customers who can’t pay their bills. The Earthjustice legal organization filed the proposal last week on behalf of the League of United Latin American Citizens of Florida and two utility customers.

The utilities pointed Tuesday to a series of efforts they have made to help customers who have struggled as the pandemic has caused widespread job losses and financial troubles.

“In summary, the petitioners’ request for an emergency rule change does not acknowledge the substantial accommodations and extensive options that are already available to customers in need of financial assistance today,” attorneys for FPL and Gulf Power, which are sister companies, wrote in one of the filings. “In addition, the request fails to meet the high standard for the promulgation of an emergency rule (under state law). The proactive approach and the expansive

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