If you owe back payments on utility bills in New Jersey, look for a shutoff notice soon.
The moratorium on shutoffs has been lifted, and utility companies are free to send out notices of service termination.
Gov. Phil Murphy imposed the moratorium when the pandemic began and extended it as recently as last December, but has now let it expire.
Despite more than a million New Jersey customers owing over $820 million in back payments, utility regulators say just 10% of those customers have asked for help.
The president of the Board of Public Utilities, Joseph Fiordaliso, told NJ Spotlight help is still available for those in danger of having their service shut off.
"Nobody wants to shut you off," Fiordaliso said. "This was not a free ride, and eventually we all had to pay."
State officials have stressed that utilities are willing to work with any customer who is struggling, but you have to ask for the help.
Some local mayors have also been urging residents to apply for help, fearing mass cutoffs adding to the economic pain the pandemic has brought.
In addition, the state has two programs that provide direct help.
The Universal Service Fund Program (USF) and the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
Help is available to families with incomes of $105,000 per year or less.
Eric Scott is the senior political director and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at email@example.com
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