New Jersey: Utility Shutoff Grace Period Extended to March 15 for Electric, Sewer, and Water Bills

Carolyne Volpe Curley / West Essex Now

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Utility Shut Off Notice
“Even though the public health emergency has ended, many people are still getting back on their feet and need additional support. This law will give people more time to make utility payments and will allow families to focus on everyday decisions without having to worry about their water shutting off. Having reliable utility services is a necessity for every New Jersey resident.” ~ statement from the bill's creators: NJ Assemblymembers Annette Quijano and Verlina Reynolds-Jackson

Friday, Dec. 24, 2021

This week, Governor Phil Murphy signed New Jersey Senate Bill 4081 which extends the utility shutoff grace period for all municipal electric, sewer and water customers through March 15, 2022. Additionally, the legislation extends interest-free payment plans over a year’s time prior to service disconnection.

INTEREST-FREE PAYMENT PLANS

Prior to disconnecting services, the new law requires that all utilities provide for a payment plan:

  • Payable over 12-months
  • Interest-free
  • No down payment

Additionally, no liens can be applied for non-payment of utility bills that have accrued since the beginning of the public health emergency.

“The legislation signed by the Governor is a common sense solution to what has been a very difficult issue as New Jerseyans continue to deal with the economic fallout of the pandemic. Expanding Winter Termination Protections to new sectors means more households will have the opportunity to contact their utilities to set up a payment plan or to apply for one of the many assistance programs the state has available.” ~Joseph L. Fiordaliso, President New Jersey Board of Public Utilities

WINTER TERMINATION PROGRAM

Since 2015, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) has prohibited electric or gas utilities service disconnections from November 15 through March 15.

  • This week’s signed legislation now includes sewer and water utilities under the Winter Termination Program.

LOW INCOME HOME ENERGY ASSISTANCE (LIHEAP)

New Jersey’s Home Energy Assistance Program helps very low-income residents with their heating and cooling bills, and makes provisions for emergency heating system services and emergency fuel assistance.

How to Apply:

Next, print out the completed application and submit to your Local Community Action Agency.

“While many of us are returning to a sense of normalcy, there are many households that are still struggling as a result of the pandemic. This extension will provide a buffer for families that still have arrears and allow additional time for them to work out a payment plan. No one should have to choose between paying their utilities and paying for other necessities such as food, housing, and medication.” ~ Sheila Y. Oliver, Commissioner Department of Community Affairs, NJ Lt. Governor

LEGISLATION SPONSORS

The bill was initially created this month in the NJ Assembly by Democratic assemblywomen:

  • Yvonne Lopez
  • Annette Quijano
  • Verlina Reynolds-Jackson

It then went to the NJ Senate where the following Democratic state senators supported it and got it passed:

  • Nilsa Cruz-Perez
  • Linda Greenstein
  • Shirley Turner

Other recent New Jersey news you may have missed:

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Carolyne Volpe Curley, a Certified New Jersey Press Journalist since 2012, has appeared on nationally televised productions and interviewed by the international press. Volpe Curley publishes West Essex NOW, a hyperlocal news site covering Essex County, NJ. Volpe Curley graduated from Lafayette College in 1986, with a BA in both English and Government, and a minor in Women Studies and Religion.

Essex County, NJ
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