In most states, there are laws, rules, and regulations that determine when an electric, gas, water, or utility company may disconnect a customers’ service. The rules and laws may prevent a shut off of heat, power or electric during the winter or summer months. This means that during these months, you will not be able to have your heat, power or electric shut off. The following state regulations protect consumers from utility disconnections: 1. A utility may not disconnected a customer’s service for nonpayment if the customer: a. Has made a written request for a deferred payment plan; b. Is participating in a state or federally-funded low-income home energy assistance program; c. Has applied for service under the state’s Lifeline or Link-Up program; or d. Is a victim of domestic violence. 2. A utility may not disconnected a customer’s service during the heating season (November 1-April 15) unless the customer: a. Has been provided with at least 10 days’ notice of the impending disconnection; b. Has been offered a deferred payment plan; and c. Has been notified of the availability of state and federal energy assistance programs.
The laws put into place by states typically protect vulnerable groups such as the elderly, families with young children, disabled people, and those with medical conditions. Utility companies may be regulated by states as to whether they can turn off heat in cold winter months, or whether energy companies can turn off electricity or lights during hot summer months.
The authorities are focused on stopping both illegal or questionable disconnections that can put a family or child at risk, including during summer or winter months. States also help prevent electricity disconnections by providing assistance in national emergencies or disasters, such as hurricanes, snowstorms, floods, or pandemics. The following website provides information on consumer protection laws in each state: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0261-consumer-protection-agencies-state-and-territorial
In many cases, it is not legal for a utility company to turn off a customer’s service. For example, during winter or summer, there are often limits on when power can be disconnected, as well as during extreme weather events and temperatures. A utility company is not allowed to turn off the heat, electricity or power during cold or hot weather. This means that if a customer is enrolled in a payment plan with their service provider, the service cannot be disconnected according to most state laws.
The specific state laws are below. However, the regulations are always changing. There are typically new and stronger laws to protect customers who have children or are elderly. If you’re unsure about what the latest rules and regulations are for your state regarding utilities, don’t hesitate to ask a local non-profit community action agency or pro-bono law firm.
What to do if illegal electric, heat, water, or power disconnection
If you believe that a utility company is not following the regulation in place to protect customers from illegal heating, water and utility disconnections, you can take action. New laws and regulations are constantly being created by each state.
Each state has law firms that provide free legal advice on utility disconnections (heat, water, electricity, etc.), and attorneys can advise you on your rights as well as help you get your power or water service back on. If you need legal advice on how to deal with utility or heating service disconnections, you can find free resources online.
If the temperature falls under 32 degrees, the utility company cannot disconnect the service. This is to protect the customers. There are also other circumstances where it is illegal to disconnect the service, such as if it is a life-threatening situation or there is extreme weather.
If a person in Alaska is age 65 or older, seriously ill, disabled, or dependent on a life support system, their heating and utilities will be delayed from being disconnected for 15 days. Additionally, if a customer is seriously ill, disabled, or has entered into a payment plan, their service cannot be disconnected.
Arizona – Utility and power companies are advised not terminate residential utility service when the customer has an inability to pay their bill and where weather will be especially dangerous to health, which is usually considered 32° F or below for winter and triple digits for summer. There are also rules that say customers cannot be disconnected from service for certain medical reasons.
If the temperature is going to be 32 degrees or lower in the next 24 hours, gas and electric service cannot be disconnected in Arkansas. It is a crime to turn off power to an elderly or disabled person when the temperature is above 95 degrees, or if they need electricity for a medical emergency. The customer is not allowed to disconnect their service if they agree to a deferred or extended payment agreement with the utility company. It is now illegal to disconnect winter natural gas for certain low to moderate income-eligible households, provided they make a minimum payment of 50 percent of their bill. If you have a serious medical condition, your utilities can’t be disconnected. The supply of water is limited from November to March.
A customer who is unable to pay their utility bills in the normal timeframe and provides a medical certification from a licensed physician or surgeon that termination of service would be life threatening, shall be allowed to spread their payments out over a twelve-month period. This means that if you make a payment plan with your utility company, they cannot turn off your service. There are laws in California that protect people from having their utilities disconnected if they are unable to pay. These laws are specific to Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas and Electric.
Colorado has a rule that if you have a medical certificate, you can put off having your utility or heating service disconnected for up to 90 days.
In Connecticut, there is a policy in place that provides assistance to low-income individuals who are experiencing financial hardships. This means that customers can have both electric and gas service turned on between 11/1 and 5/1, even if they owe the utility company money. Customers need to fill out an application to be eligible for this plan, and there are some conditions that they must meet. If a lack of power is life-threatening, gas and electric utility service must be provided year-round, regardless of debt or bills owed to the utility. This means that if you have agreed to a payment plan with your utility company, they cannot legally disconnect your service.
Delaware will not allow utilities to disconnect service if the temperature is below 32 degrees or above 105 degrees. There are also rules that say you can’t be disconnected if it would negatively impact your health or if you have a medical condition. There are laws that prevent utility companies from shutting off power during the winter, from November to April.
The District of Columbia has a law that prohibits people from setting off fireworks when the temperature is below 32 degrees. Disconnecting a customer’s heating and utilities is illegal if the customer has a medical condition. In this case, disconnection may be postponed for up to 21 days.
Florida does not have any laws or regulations in place to protect residents.
If you have a medical condition that requires utilities, you can delay disconnection for up to 30 days with a certification from a medical professional. If you are 45 days overdue on your power or gas bill, the company has the right to disconnect your service. They must first send you a proper notification. There will be no interruption in service if the customer agrees to and follows the payment plan. If the temperature is either very cold or very hot, then it is against the law to turn off the utilities, so during both summer and winter there are only a limited number of times when it is allowed.
There are no protections in place for people in Hawaii.
If customers in Idaho agree to a payment plan, their service will not be disconnected between November and March. Shut-offs are also limited during the hot summer months. A law prevents the disconnection of electricity for households with children under 18, elderly age 62 or older, or infirm. If a member of a household is in danger of losing heat, gas, or electricity, the law requires a 30 day waiting period before the service can be disconnected. You cannot disconnect a customer’s service if they owe less than $75 on their bills, or if they owe no more than last month’s balance on November 1.
Illinois law prohibits utilities from disconnecting service for nonpayment when the temperature is below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Utilities must offer a payment plan that requires a 10% down payment. Public utilities cannot turn off gas or electricity when the temperature is at or above 95°F. A utility company cannot shut off a customer’s service during certain times of the year unless the customer has been offered a payment plan or the utility has informed the customer of available government assistance funds. If a physician believes that disconnecting a household’s utilities would negatively impact the health of someone in the home, the law requires a 30 day delay.
During the winter months, utilities are not allowed to disconnect electric or natural gas service for nonpayment of bills if the customer qualifies for public assistance, even if the customer does not receive the benefit. This law prevents customers from being disconnected from their utilities if they are experiencing financial hardship and are unable to pay their bill in full. Customers can agree to pay a portion of their bill (either $10 or 10% of the overdue amount) and then have three months to pay the remainder. All future bills must also be paid on time to avoid disconnection. This regulation postpones disconnection for 20 days if the customer presents a medical statement from a licensed physician which states that disconnection would be a serious and immediate threat to the individual’s health.
If a doctor believes that disconnecting a household member’s utilities would negatively affect their health, Iowa state law requires the utility company to wait 30 days before doing so. The other program requires all residential customers to disconnect their service when the temperature is below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. 1 to April 15. This means that customers who are approved for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program will have their utilities covered from November 1st to April 15th. This includes water, electricity, and gas. From the beginning of March through the end of the month, regardless of the temperature outside. Additionally, the local utility must have a payment plan available after the moratorium. If you are going to be disconnected from your gas or electric utility, and you are also receiving help from the local CAP agency, you may be able to get a 30 day extension on your service.
In Kansas, it is illegal to disconnect a customer’s utilities (heat, electricity, water, etc.) if the temperature outside is below 35 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature is above 35 degrees, customers must enter into a payment schedule and make payments on time in order to avoid disconnection. If a customer is having difficulty making payments, they may be eligible for aid. This means that if disconnecting your service would negatively affect someone’s health in your household, you have 20 days before your service is disconnected. The customer is expected to agree to a payment plan with their gas or utility company during the delay.
In the state of Kentucky, if you are “income qualified” for certain public or government assistance programs, you are able to negotiate a payment plan with the utility company for reconnection during the cold winter months of November through March. The company cannot disconnect if a payment agreement is in effect. A rule delays disconnect of service for 30 days with medical certification. This means that if you have a medical condition that prevents you from paying your bill, you can provide certification to your service provider and they will not disconnect your service for 30 days.
If a Louisiana utility company plans to disconnect a customer’s power, they must wait up to 63 days if doing so would pose a risk to the health or safety of anyone in the customer’s household. The customer must agree to a payment plan before the disconnect date in order for it to be effective.
Maine does not allow customers to pay less than the amount of each current bill during the winter months if the customer agrees to a special payment arrangement with their gas or utility company. In addition, laws call for a 30 day delay, with renewals up to 90 days, if a physician certifies that a disconnection would adversely affect the health of a customer or household member. The power or gas company cannot disconnect your service if you owe less than $50, unless the overdue amount is more than 90 days old or the utility bills four times a year or less.
In Maryland, you cannot have your water shut off from November to March. The Utility Service Protection Program also offers payment plans for low-income customers that provide shut-off protection to low income customers year-round. If a household member has a serious medical condition, their service will not be disconnected for an additional 30 days. The customer needs to set up a payment plan for this to work. This means that people who apply for federal government energy assistance plans will not have their service disconnected for 55 days.
In the state of Massachusetts, it is illegal to disconnect a customer’s utilities (including heat) if they cannot pay an overdue charge due to financial hardship, from the months of November to April. This means that if someone in your household is seriously ill, or if there is an infant under 12 months old, the utility or gas company cannot shut off your service. The state requires that utilities get written approval to shut off services for households where all residents are 65 years or older. This means that if an elderly person lives in a low-income household and has a child under the age of 18, they cannot be evicted.
The Michigan Winter Protection Plan is a program that provides assistance to those who are 65 years or older, recipients of food stamps, Medicaid, or Department of Human Services cash assistance, full time active military personnel, or persons needing critical medical or health care during the winter months. The program is in effect from November to March. Households must be signed up for a payment plan. Customers who are struggling to pay their utility or heating bills can sign up for a year-round payment plan that requires an initial down payment of 10 percent of the total bill. This plan is available to all customers regardless of income. Utility companies will usually disconnect service after 21 days of nonpayment. However, if disconnection would adversely affect the health of a household member, most companies will allow for an extension with a medical certificate. Certification can be renewed for another 42 days. The due date for utility bills has been extended to 22 days.
In Minnesota, customers are protected from extreme weather conditions both in the winter and summer. It is illegal to disconnect if an advisory, or excessive heat or cold warning has been issued. A disconnect ban is also in place if a customer declares inability to pay and if their household income is limited. The customer agrees to a payment plan or if eligible, pays 10% of income or the full amount of current bill (whichever is less). The customer agrees and adheres to the payment plan. This means that if the weather is extremely hot, the utility company cannot turn off your service. If a family member’s health would be negatively impacted by a disconnection, we can work with them to keep their service on. They would need to provide a medical certificate, though. This means that even if a customer is on a payment plan, they cannot be disconnected.
A shut-off is not allowed for customers who have severe financial difficulties or who have a medical emergency and agree to a payment plan with their utility or gas company.
This means that utilities in Missouri cannot shut off heat-related services to customers during the fall and winter when temperatures are forecasted to dip below 32 degrees in the next 24 hours. The customer can have their heating service restored by making an initial payment of 50% of his/her outstanding balance or $500, whichever is less. The customer can then set up a Cold Weather Rule payment agreement plan in order to pay off the deferred balance. The law forbids companies from disconnecting service to elderly or disabled customers who have a low income and make a minimum payment on their bill. The other program states that the disconnection shall be postponed for 21 days due to the medical condition of an occupant. This allows customers to extend their payment of preexisting arrears beyond the 12 months timeframe.
A gas or utility company in Montana cannot disconnect service if the temperature at 8 a.m. is below 32° F or if freezing temperatures are forecast for the next 24 hours, for customers receiving public assistance, if a household member is age 62 or older, or if the customer is disabled. The PSC needs to approve any shut-offs. This rule is in effect from November to April. This means that if disconnecting your service would make a medical condition worse, the company will delay disconnecting the service.
No low-income natural gas customers in Nebraska will be disconnected from their service from November to March, as long as they can provide proof of eligibility for energy assistance. This rule states that to have service restored between November 1 and March 31, a rate payer must make payment of one-fourth of the total arrearage that is due on their bill plus the most recent bill and enter a payment plan with the remaining arrearage paid in installments over no less than three months or as agreed between the rate payer and the utility. If someone does not pay their utility bills according to the plan that was put into effect, the utility company may disconnect their service after providing the required notice. If a resident’s illness or disability would be adversely affected by termination, termination would be postponed for 30 days. A licensed physician’s certification would be required.
The rules are in effect if the temperature is above 105 or below 15 in Nevada. If a customer is facing a medical emergency, their service will be disconnected in 30 days, with one renewal. The customer must pay their energy bill in three installments within the next ninety days. The elderly and handicapped must be given at least 48 hours notice before their service is disconnected. If customers agree to pay their outstanding bill in installments within the next 90 days, their disconnection will be delayed.
In New Hampshire, state approval is needed to disconnect utility services for customers aged 65 or older from November to April. Disconnection of heat and utilities service is not allowed unless arrears are more than $125 for gas non- heating, $225 for electric non-heating and more than $450 for gas, electric and steam heating. During the winter, customers who are struggling financially can restart their utility and heating service by paying 10% of the total amount due upfront, and then 10% of the total amount each month. Customers experiencing financial hardship can continue to receive service during the winter period by paying 10% of their total due each month. Customers must be allowed to pay their balance over the next 6 months after the winter moratorium. If the customer agrees to a payment plan for their outstanding bills, they are not allowed to disconnect from the service. If there is a medical emergency, disconnection of service will be delayed for 60 days. This can be renewed every 60 days if necessary. Approval from the commission is needed in order to disconnect service to customers who have a medical emergency.
There is a ban in place for customers receiving Lifeline, LIHEAP, TANF, SSI, PAAD or GA that prevents them from being disconnected. The law protects households that may be unable to pay overdue amounts on their utilities because of medical expenses, unemployment, or recent death of spouse. These plans are in effect during the winter, and during summer when the temperature is above 95. Customers who are eligible for the Winter Termination Protection Program cannot have their service disconnected as long as they make good faith payments on their heating bills. These customers are placed on a budget plan. During the heating season, a utility may not require a security deposit. If a customer is eligible for the Winter Termination Program, and the high temperature is forecast to be 90o or more at any time during the following 48 hours, the electric utility shall not discontinue residential service to the customer for any of the following reasons: nonpayment of a delinquent account, failure to comply with a deferred payment agreement, or failure to pay a cash security deposit or guarantee. If a physician certifies that the health of a household member would be adversely affected by the termination of service, the termination of service may be delayed for up to two months. The customer must make a payment plan with their energy provider and cannot disconnect unless the customer owes more than $50 or more than three months of charges.
15. During the winter months from November 15 through March 15, gas companies in New Mexico are not allowed to disconnect service to any residential customer who qualifies for the low-income home energy assistance program and who is current on their bills, or who has entered into a payment agreement with their provider and is current on payments under that agreement by Nov. 15. This is an example of a run-on sentence This is an example of a sentence that is too long and needs to be shorter. If a customer is seriously or chronically ill, they cannot be disconnected from their service if it is certified by a medical professional. If the customer qualifies for assistance from Human Services, Medicaid, or a charitable organization, they also cannot be disconnected. If the customer agrees to a payment plan, they will not be disconnected. This means that the utility or gas company must try to work out a payment plan with the customer before shutting off their service. Customers who agree to and follow a payment plan with their service provider are not allowed to disconnect their service.
In New York, utilities cannot disconnect service if the customer is unable to pay the full amount due. The customer must be offered a payment plan that works for their financial situation. If a household has a life support system, the state prohibits the utility from disconnecting service. The state also offers a 30 day delay for certified medical conditions. This means that if you are 62 or older, blind, or disabled, your utilities can’t be shut off unless the company tries to work out a payment plan with you first.
If a customer cannot pay their bill, the utility company must wait 15 days before terminating service. The company will also request help from social services to devise a payment plan. Between November 1 – April 15, customers must be notified 72 hours before disconnection. This is to make sure that the health and safety of a resident will not be compromised. The utility cannot disconnect service if it would cause a serious health or safety impairment. Connection interruptions are not allowed during Christmas and New Year’s.
In North Dakota, it is not legal to disconnect service from a customer who is on a payment plan. In addition, utilities must delay disconnect of heating and utility service for 30 days for customers who are age 65 or older, ill, or disabled.
The state of Ohio prevents disconnection from October to March under certain conditions. This means that if you are on the Percentage of Income Plan (PIP), your service cannot be disconnected as long as you continue to make your PIPP payments. If you’re struggling to pay your heating or utility bills, you may be able to get help through the winter reconnect order. This allows you to pay no more than $175 to keep your service connected. If the customer’s service has already been disconnected, they will have to pay a reconnect fee of no more than $36 to have their service restored. Customers who use the Winter Reconnect Order must agree to a payment plan to pay off their remaining balance. This means that if you are a new customer requesting natural gas or electric services, and you have no previous balance with your utility, you can establish service by paying $175, rather than paying the required security deposit. If a person’s health would be in danger without power or if they rely on medical or life support equipment, there is a regulation that provides a 30 day delay on disconnecting their service. A doctor or medical professional would need to certify this in order for the regulation to apply. If a customer’s service is shut off, and they submit a form within 21 days, their service will be restored with a condition. A medical certification may be renewed up to three times within a 12-month period.
During certain times of the year, specifically when it is very cold or very hot, Oklahoma does not allow utilities to be disconnected. If a customer’s life is in danger, they may be able to delay their payment by 30 days, or extend their payment by 30 days. The utility commission may order a ban on all disconnections if severe weather conditions are present or if it is dangerous to the health of the customer. If you have a medical doctor’s certification, you may be able to delay the disconnection for 30 days.
In Oregon, if a customer enters into a deferred payment plan with their utility provider, the utility provider is not allowed to disconnect the customer’s service. If the customer has a medical certificate, the service will not be shut off and the customer will have up to 6 months for a non-chronic condition, up to 12 months for a chronic condition. The customer must set up a payment plan.
In Pennsylvania, there are rules in place that prevent utilities from being disconnected from December to March. This means that if you are at or below 250% of the poverty level, your utilities will not be shut off during the protection period. If your power gets shut off before December 1, the utility company will try to contact you and work out a plan to pay your past due bills and turn your power back on. After a medical emergency, there is a 30 day waiting period before service is disconnected. This delay can be renewed twice. The customer is required to set up a payment plan to take care of this delay. No utility may terminate or refuse to restore service if doing so would adversely affect the health of a household member, as certified by a medical professional.
This means that during the months of November to March, it is illegal to hunt in Rhode Island. A ban on disconnecting service is in place for those customers who are handicapped, elderly or seriously ill, a ban is in place for households with a child under 2 years old, and disconnection is also not allowed for those customers who are receiving unemployment compensation, federal government heating assistance or who qualify as a financial hardship or if arrears on their heating or utility bills are less than $500 for primary source of heat or less than $200 if not primary heat source. You cannot disconnect from the system during extreme heat. Utilities companies are required to offer payment plans to customers who are in danger of having their service disconnected. This means that if someone in your household is certified as seriously ill, you have 21 days before your service can be disconnected. Some customers may want more time. All residential customers can have power restored by making a down payment on their bill.
In South Carolina, utility companies are not allowed to shut off service from December 1 to March 31. The disconnection of service will be put on hold for customers when the average temperature that is forecasted is at or below 32 degrees Fahrenheit for a 45-hour period. This means that if you are seriously ill and have a medical certificate, your electricity will not be shut off for at least 30 days. This can be renewed up to 3 times during the winter protection period. There are regulations in place that state that a customer’s service cannot be disconnected if the customer agrees to and adheres to a payment plan with their service provider.
In the state of South Dakota, disconnection from utilities is limited from the months of November to March during the winter season when heating is typically used. If the customer agrees to and follows a payment plan, there will be no disconnection. The customer’s service will not be disconnected for 30 days if a physician, doctor, or public health official or social service official certifies that there is a medical emergency.
In Tennessee, utilities are required to offer a payment plan, and there is a 30-day disconnect delay for customers if their physician or a social service official certify that a household member’s health would be adversely affected from the loss of service. certificates may be renewed every 4 months
Texas law requires utility and gas companies to offer a deferred payment plan to families and individuals in the state. No disconnect will happen if the customer agrees to and follows a payment plan for any previous utility or heating bills. No turning off is allowed if the temperature is going to be below 32 degrees, or in extreme heat. If a state resident’s health would be negatively impacted by disconnecting their service, the company will delay disconnection, but the customer must have a doctor’s note to get this plan.
The deadline for turning off protections in Utah is November to March. The customer must have a termination notice and have been refused utility service. The individual must have applied for energy assistance and be making a good faith effort to pay their utility bill on a consistent basis during the moratorium period. Lastly, the customer must also meet at least 1 of the following criteria in order to qualify for assistance: have an income that is less than 150% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, or have a medical condition that requires heating or energy and be willing to enter into a written deferred payment plan to pay all past-due amounts on unpaid bills. State law prevents utilities from disconnecting service if it would be detrimental to the health of the customer, as certified by a physician.
In Vermont, it is illegal to disconnect a household’s heating, electric, or gas if the temperature is below 10° F or 32° F if there is someone 62 years of age or older in the home. If the customer agrees to a payment plan with their service provider, they are not allowed to disconnect their service. If a member of the household would be negatively affected by not having access to the utility, the disconnection can be delayed for up to 30 days. This can be renewed twice with a note from a physician. This means that if a customer owes less than $50, the company cannot disconnect the service. However, this exception can only be used for a maximum of two billing cycles in one calendar year.
There are no statewide laws, rules, or regulations in place in Virginia. Call your specific energy company to inquire about any rate plans that could help to delay a shut off.
From November to March, customers who are experiencing financial hardship can get help from Washington. This is for customers who meet the requirements for energy assistance and who have agreed to a payment plan. Heating and utility ser