Quijano Measure to Extend the Utility Payment Grace Period Clears Assembly Panel

(TRENTON) – During the pandemic, many residents have struggled to make utility payments.  Governor Murphy issued Executive Order No. 246 in June giving residential customers a grace period to make payments for sewer and water services, which is set to expire at the end of December.  Many people in New Jersey are still unable to make full payments, putting them at risk of water shutoffs.

To ensure that residents’ water service is not discontinued, Assembly Democrat Annette Quijano (D-Union) sponsors legislation to extend the current grace period prohibiting shutoffs from December 31, 2021, to March 15, 2022.  The bill (A-6115) would also direct the Department of Community Affairs to establish a Winter Sewer and Water Winter Termination Program, which would prohibit municipal utilities from discounting services through March 15, 2022.  The bill was passed by the Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee on Monday.

Upon committee approval of the measure, Assemblywoman Quijano issued the following statement:

Having reliable water services is a necessity for every New Jersey resident. Currently, the electricity and heat people need to survive cold weather are protected from being cut off during the winter if people cannot pay their bills. The water people need to survive should not be cut off during this time either. Even though the public health emergency has ended, many people are still getting back on their feet and need additional support. This bill 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.”

 The measure heads to the Speaker for further consideration.