Moratorium on utility disconnections expires: Customers needing help encouraged to make payment arrangements or apply for assistance


Colorado Public Utilities Commission

With the temporary moratorium on utility disconnections lifted, the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) encourages customers behind on utility payments to arrange for a payment plan or apply for assistance.

On June 12, Gov. Jared Polis issued Executive Order D 2020 098, which provides relief and state support to public utility customers to mitigate, respond to and recover from the current economic disruption due to the presence of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Colorado. The latest order did not extend the temporary moratorium on utility disconnections, which was established by executive order on March 20 and extended three times thereafter. It did, however, extend the suspension of accrual of late payment fees and the waiver of reconnection fees for all residential and small business customers for an additional 30 days.

To avoid disconnection, customers who have fallen behind on payments are encouraged to first contact their utility to set up a payment plan.

Residential customers of investor-owned utilities (Xcel Energy, Black Hills Energy, Atmos Energy, Colorado Natural Gas) also may prevent a shutoff by providing the utility company a “medical certification” from a doctor, or health practitioner acting under a doctor’s supervision, stating that disconnecting service would be especially dangerous to the health or safety of the customer or a permanent resident of the customer’s household.

If a medical certification is given to the company, no shut off of service will occur for up to 90 days from the date of the certificate. A medical certificate can delay a disconnection for no more than 90 days during any consecutive 12-month period.

For more information about utility disconnections and collections, see the PUC’s For-Your-Information fact sheet on “Your Rights as an Electric or Natural Gas Utility Customer.”

If customers cannot reach an agreement with their utility, they may contact the PUC consumer affairs unit for assistance at (303) 894-2070 or by filing a complaint via the PUC website.

If a customer is having difficulty paying their energy bill or receives a disconnection notice, they may be eligible for assistance from Colorado’s Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) or Energy Outreach Colorado (EOC). To determine eligibility or to apply online, go to the Colorado Department of Human Services or call (866) HEAT-HELP [(866) 432-8435] to apply over the phone.

The PUC also requires investor-owned utilities to offer assistance through company-sponsored affordability programs for qualifying low-income customers. Customers should contact their local utility to see if they qualify.