The following advisory has been released by the Holy Trinity Conference, St. Vincent dePaul Society, Connellsville, with regard to the current moratorium on utility shutoffs:

Because of the COVID-19 health emergency, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) has ordered a temporary moratorium stating that utility services can not be shut off during the period of the governor’s disaster emergency proclamation.

What is a moratorium? It is an authorized delay (not a forgiveness) of payment of an obligation, in this case, payment of utility bills. You still must pay the bill, now or later, but your utility won’t be shut off during the moratorium. The reason is obvious – many people will have no income during this health emergency and could not possibly pay these bills. Shutting off utilities would only make the health crisis worse. However, there are also many people who will not lose their monthly income, and it is extremely important that those people continue to pay their bills.

Think about it this way: if you don’t pay your March utility bill for electricity, or for gas or for water or sewage, that much more will be added to your April bill. And if a person hasn’t paid a gas or electric bill throughout the winter, that amount will also be added. It is easy to see that some bills will be astronomical after the moratorium is ended. There won’t be enough money in all the social service organizations to help with such bills.

How long will this moratorium last? It will remain in place for as long as Gov. Tom Wolf’s March 6 disaster proclamation remains in effect, and right now that is an unknown.

So we encourage those of you who are able, to keep paying your monthly utility bills and rent bills also. The PUC does not regulate the landlord/tenant business, so the moratorium on utility payments does not apply to rents.

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