The COVID-19 pandemic has had a severe financial impact on customers’ ability to pay for basic necessities such as utility service. Nearly one million Massachusetts residential customers (824,972) owed a total of $793.8 million in unpaid electric and gas bills at the end of June 2021, $219.1 million (38%) more than was owed at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. The vast majority of those arrears (83%/$660.8 million) were held by customers who were more than 90 days behind on their bills, and thus at imminent risk of termination. By October 1, the two largest utility companies in Massachusetts reported that over 7,000 residential customers had been terminated since the state’s moratorium on residential shutoffs was lifted on July 1.
This report analyzes arrearage data through June 2021, providing a snapshot of the state of arrears before the moratorium on residential utility shutoffs expired on July 1. As the future remains uncertain, and households continue to financially struggle, millions of customers across the country need assistance immediately to avoid losing access to critical utility service.