The COVID-19 crisis placed millions of Americans in financial peril, hitting households of color particularly hard. In response, moratoriums on utility shutoffs were instituted in many states across the country to protect customers from the immediate danger of termination. However, some states’ moratoriums have already expired, or, were never instituted in the first place, meaning that for millions of customers the threat of shutoff due to the inability to pay their energy bills is already a reality. Unpaid utility bills are accruing across the country. Without additional aid, millions of families and small businesses will face or are already facing a mountain of debt that they can’t pay, placing them at high risk of disconnection.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (MA DPU) has been proactive in attempting to address and prevent the landslide of terminations that it expects at the end of its shutoff moratorium. This report analyzes arrearage data through November 2020 for three distinct customer classes in Massachusetts—customers designated as low-income (customers on the state’s discount rate), regular residential customers (customers not on the discount rate), and small commercial and industrial (C&I) customers, and provides recommendations to help divert the landslide of disconnections that could result in Massachusetts and the rest of the United States.