FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, February 23, 2021
Alessandra de la Torre, email@example.com, 541-841-6196
Oregon Power Shut Off Moratorium Extended to June 15
Community organizations advocate for a longer extension through the pandemic
[SALEM, OR] — Today the Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC) agreed to extend Oregon’s power shut off moratorium to June 15 in efforts to protect people across the state from losing power during the COVID-19 pandemic.
After heart-filled testimony at the PUC meeting today and over 150 Oregonians sent comments in favor of the moratorium extension last week, the PUC shifted from their previous stance to allow Investor-Owned Utilities (IOUs) to resume disconnection notices starting April 1st.
COVID-19 is still impacting people across Oregon, especially low-income, Black, Indigenous, and communities of color, and many have not been able to return to work. The National Bureau of Economic Research found that utility shut-offs increase the likelihood of COVID-19 infections and impact already communities most vulnerable to COVID-19.
“The impacts of COVID-19 on people across Oregon aren’t going to end on June 15″ said Alessandra de la Torre, Energy Justice Organizer at Rogue Climate. “The economic and public health impacts of this pandemic will be long lasting. Oregon needs to do everything it can to support communities as they recover from the pandemic and that includes protecting people from power shut offs. The PUC should prioritize the well-being of communities over the profit of the largest utilities in the state.”
Shutting off power can harm families and workers already deeply impacted by loss of income and death of loved ones during the pandemic. Children can’t attend online school if their power is shut off. Power shut offs can result in death for people who need electricity to run critical home medical equipment. According to Jimmy Jones and Dan Brown from Community Action Partnership of Oregon (CAPO), one in five customers shut-off from utility service face homelessness.
“Access to energy is a human right and a vital need during the pandemic. No one should be disconnected, but especially not now and not in a few months. We need to ensure that we have workable solutions to address arrearages that are developed co-creatively between community, utilities, and the Public Utility Commission before we even consider whether the moratorium should be lifted,” said Oriana Magnera, Energy, Climate, and Transportation Manager at Verde.
The PUC will reconvene a public meeting regarding the power shut off moratorium in May. Public testimony is welcomed and can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org