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Schaer Introduces Legislative Package to Help Residents Struggling to Pay Utility Bills Due to Covid-19

The economic impact of COVID-19 has left many families struggling. To bring necessary relief to the people of New Jersey, Assemblyman Gary Schaer (D-Passaic/Bergen) has introduced a legislative package to ensure that every resident shares in our economic recovery.

The three-bill package includes legislation that will: prevent utility rates from being raised until 180-days after a public health emergency; allow residents whose utilities have been disconnected to resume service with extended time to pay bills in arrears; and require utilities to notify customers of any forgiveness or repayment program the utility offers.

“As residents return to work, we must provide support to ensure their recovery,” said Schaer. “This legislation will guarantee that families receive essential services that they otherwise could not afford during this crucial period. As our State works towards long-term stability, it is vital that our working families have the resources they need to restore our communities.”

The three bills in the legislative package would:

  • (A-4678) prohibit certain utilities and authorities from increasing rates and assessing late or restoration fees or charges during and within 180 days after a major public health emergency;
  • (A-4677) require utilities and authorities that provide electric, gas, sewer, or water service to residential customers, and which have discontinued service to a residential customer for nonpayment, to allow a customer to pay the outstanding balance owed before the discontinuance of service over at least a 12-month period; and
  • (A-4671) require utilities to provide notices to residential customers of various relief measures and assistance programs to preserve their utility service.

“Covid-19 has shattered the lives of so many within our State, our residents deserve bold ideas that meet this moment,” continued Schaer. “The people of this State have already begun the work of providing sustainable solutions to this ongoing crisis. I believe in the people of this State. With this legislation, we put our trust in the families that have made our State a leader before, during and after this pandemic.”

The bills were introduced Monday, September 14.