(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) Utility companies will soon start shutting off Californians' service for unpaid bills after a year-long moratorium imposed by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) in light of the economic struggles related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to regulatory reports according to Patch, in April of this year nearly 25% of the state's four largest Investor-Owned Utilities (IOU) – Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas & Electric and Southern California Gas – had overdue bills. Additionally, 1.3 million of the customers are at least four months late.
The regulatory reports indicate that the toll from residential customers was nearly $1.4 billion. Despite this, the state's two largest municipal utilities, the Sacramento Municipal Utilities District and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power have not reported the exact number of delinquent customers, but the amounts are believed to be substantial.
The Bear Valley Electric Company, which serves rural areas around Big Bear and in the San Bernadino Mountains, reported some of the highest delinquency rates with 68% of its customers and all of its small business customers falling behind on their bills. Crucially, roughly 88% of Bear Valley's low-income customers were behind on their bills.
This detail reveals the lasting economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic as millions of Californians still struggle to find consistent work.
California does offer residents some help with utility bills by way of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) Block Grant which is funded by the federal government. Eligibility and application details can be found here.