Phil the Groundhog did not see his shadow this year. Which means, of course, that spring is coming early! Good news! Your utility winter protections still last until April 1, even if spring comes early.
Each year, residential Philadelphia Gas Works (PGW) and PECO customers are protected from utility shut offs by the winter moratorium. In Pennsylvania, it is illegal for utility companies to shut off services for low-income customers because of non-payment between December 1 and March 31. To be protected, the utility company must be regulated by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC), and must have a record of, or be aware that, your income is at or below 250% of the Federal Poverty Line (FPL). PGW has some more special rules that can be found here. Not sure if you qualify for protection? The most recent FPL guidelines can be found here.
Shutoff season begins April 1st, which means that you can be shutoff, if given proper notice, any time after April 1st. If you do receive a shut-off notice from PECO or PGW, contact your utility company. They may be able to help you set up a payment arrangement, or get you enrolled in an affordability program. You may also be eligible for assistance grants like the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Grants like LIHEAP could give you money to help pay your utility bills, but registration closes April 12, so it’s important to act fast. Visit this link to find out more information about LIHEAP and how to apply.
But what about water? The Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) is not regulated by the PUC so it has its own rules. Luckily, PWD also has a winter moratorium: ALL residential customers are safe from having their water services turned off for non-payment between December 1 and March 31.
If your utilities have been shut off during the winter, the Energy Unit at Community Legal Services (CLS) may be able to help you! More information about our services can be found here.