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Minnesota utilities suspending disconnections during COVID-19

Posted March 16, 2020. Updated April 3, 2:09 p.m.

Minnesota utilities have begun announcing that they have stopped disconnecting residential customers for nonpayment, and we anticipate many more announcements in the hours and weeks ahead.

CUB is asking all utilities to ensure customers are turned on, even people who can’t meet minimum payments right now. We are also working with the State of Minnesota leadership on statewide action. Everyone must have electricity, heat, water, sanitation, and communications services during this time, while protecting the safety and health of utility workers.

We thank the utilities that have taken action, setting the standard for service providers in Minnesota and around the country.

If you are overdue on your bills or are currently disconnected, please contact your utility provider immediately. Ask them to keep your service on if your account is past due and to help you set up a payment arrangement as you are able. If you are shut off, ask them to reconnect you. Some extra flexibility is available to people who have been financially affected by COVID-19, so be sure to tell them if you have.

CUB will advocate for you if you run into difficulties. You can contact us at info@cubminnesota.org or 651-300-4701.

 

On March 25, the Minnesota Commissioner of Commerce, Steve Kelley, and PUC chair, Katie Sieben, sent a joint letter to the state’s electric and gas utilities. The letter requested that, for the duration of the national security or peacetime emergency, utilities voluntarily:

  1. Extend Cold Weather Rule protections by restricting disconnection of residential customers for nonpayment of bills and reconnecting customers who have been disconnected for nonpayment.
  2. Waive late fees that any residential or small business customer incurs because of the economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic.
  3. Arrange payment plans for customers requesting help during this time that is based on the financial resources and circumstances of the customer.

They also requested each utility in the state respond to those three requests by April 3.  

 

Below are utilities’ responses to the request and links to additional information the utilities have made public. For those utilities that have not yet responded to the request, we provide what information CUB is aware of through utilities’ public statements or our communications with utility staff. We are continuing to update this list with utility policies as they are submitted. (If you get an error message after clicking on a link, try the link again. It’s a quirk of the eDockets system.)

If you have information to share, please contact us: info@cubminnesota.org or 651-300-4701.

 

Agralite Electric Cooperative: Delaying residential disconnections due to non-payment or failure to abide by an existing payment plan; waiving late fees for current billing cycle (as of March 30) and waiving future late fees on a month-to-month basis; arranging payment plans with customers who request. Agralite’s statement did not address the state’s request to reconnect customers who are currently disconnected for non-payment.

Aitkin Public Utilities: Waiving late fees; arranging payment plans with customers. The utility’s statement did not address the state’s requests to restrict disconnections and reconnect customers who are currently disconnected for non-payment.

ALP Utilities (Alexandria): Restricting residential disconnections due to non-payment, reconnecting customers who have been disconnected for the duration of the national security or state peacetime emergency; waiving residential and small business late fees incurred due to economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; arranging payment plans based on the financial resources and circumstances of the customer.

Arrowhead Cooperative: Refraining from residential disconnections, reconnecting previously disconnected customers as part of reasonable payment plan; waiving residential and small business late fees incurred due to economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; arranging payment plans based on the financial resources and circumstances of the customer. Additional information.

Austin Public Utilities: Restricting disconnection of residential customers for non-payment, reconnecting customers who have been disconnected for the duration of the national security or state peacetime emergency; waiving residential and small business late fees incurred due to economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; arranging payment plans based on the financial resources and circumstances of the customer.

Bagley Public Utilities: Restricting disconnection of residential customers for non-payment, reconnecting customers who have been disconnected for the duration of the national security or state peacetime emergency; waiving residential and small business late fees incurred due to economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; arranging payment plans based on the financial resources and circumstances of the customer.

Beltrami Public Utilities: Refraining from residential disconnections, reconnecting previously disconnected customers as part of reasonable payment plan; waiving residential and small business late fees incurred due to economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; arranging payment plans based on the financial resources and circumstances of the customer.

BENCO Electric Cooperative: Restricting disconnection of residential customers for non-payment, reconnecting customers who have been disconnected for the duration of the national security or state peacetime emergency; waiving residential and small business late fees incurred due to economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; arranging payment plans based on the financial resources and circumstances of the customer.

Blooming Prairie Public Utilities: Restricting disconnection of residential customers for non-payment, reconnecting customers who have been disconnected for the duration of the national security or state peacetime emergency; waiving residential and small business late fees incurred due to economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; arranging payment plans based on the financial resources and circumstances of the customer.

Brown County Rural Electric Association: Refraining from residential disconnections, reconnecting previously disconnected customers as part of reasonable payment plan; waiving residential and small business late fees incurred due to economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; arranging payment plans based on the financial resources and circumstances of the customer.

Centennial Utilities: Restricting disconnection of residential customers for non-payment, reconnecting customers who have been disconnected for the duration of the national security or state peacetime emergency; waiving residential and small business late fees incurred due to economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; arranging payment plans based on the financial resources and circumstances of the customer.

CenterPoint Energy: Suspending residential disconnections for non-payment for the duration of the national security or state peacetime emergency; waiving residential and small business late fees during the crisis; arranging payment plans based on the financial resources and circumstances of the customer. Additional information.

City of Alvardo: Restricting disconnection of residential customers for non-payment, reconnecting customers who have been disconnected for the duration of the national security or state peacetime emergency; waiving residential and small business late fees incurred due to economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; arranging payment plans based on the financial resources and circumstances of the customer.

City of Argyle: The city council meets on April 7 and will adopt a resolution at that time.

City of Barnesville Municipal Utility: Restricting disconnection of residential customers for non-payment, reconnecting customers who have been disconnected for the duration of the national security or state peacetime emergency; waiving residential and small business late fees incurred due to economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; arranging payment plans based on the financial resources and circumstances of the customer.

City of Battle Lake: Waiving late fees and will not disconnect customers March-June. The response did not address the state’s requests regarding reconnecting customers who are currently disconnected or arranging payment plans.

City of Buhl: Will not shut off water or electric services for non-payment; new late fees will not be charged; disconnect notices will continue to be sent. At the conclusion of this policy, customers will be required to set up a payment plan to satisfy past-due account balances. Depending on circumstances, these payment plans will not exceed three months in length. Failure to set up a payment plan will result in disconnection.

City of Duluth (ComfortSystems): Restricting disconnection of residential and small business customers for non-payment, reconnecting customers who have been disconnected for the duration of the national security or state peacetime emergency; waiving residential and small business late fees incurred due to economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; arranging payment plans based on the financial resources and circumstances of the customer. Additional information.

City of Elbow Lake: Will extend Cold Weather Protection for those who are qualified; postpone disconnection due to delinquent accounts for those who suffer hardship due to COVID-19; waiving residential and small business late fees incurred due to economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; arranging payment plans based on the financial resources and circumstances of the customer. The City will require documentation to show that hardships are incurred due to COVID-19. The City will continue disconnects for customers who do not qualify for Cold Weather Protection or who have not shows COVID-19-related hardship.

City of Fairfax: All disconnects are suspended for the next two billing cycles (as of March 19, could be extended; businesses and residential customers may request to have bills deferred until the Governor’s emergency declaration is lifted; the City will then work with all parties to arrange payment plans; no late fees or other burdensome charges will be applied during. The utility’s statement did not address the state’s request to reconnect customers who are currently disconnected for non-payment.

City of Fosston: Restricting disconnection of residential and small business customers for non-payment, reconnecting customers who have been disconnected for the duration of the national security or state peacetime emergency; waiving residential and small business late fees incurred due to economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; arranging payment plans based on the financial resources and circumstances of the customer.

City of Granite Falls: Not processing any utility shutoffs during the peacetime emergency; no penalties applied to outstanding balances at the end of April; arranging payment plans with customers. Policy will be reviewed on a monthly basis.

City of Kenyon: Suspending residential disconnections for non-payment, reconnecting occupied homes where service has been disconnected; waiving late fees for all customers; working with customers by making payment arrangements.

City of Luverne: Customers will not be disconnected due to non-payment during the period of the emergency; late fees waived for all customers during the period of the emergency; utility will work with customers to arrange payment plans.

City of Madison: The city manager has recommended that the city council suspend shutoffs scheduled for April 7 due to non-payment; late fees will not be applied to bills in the April 15 billing cycle, and the city will reassess at the next cycle. The utility’s statement did not address the state’s request to reconnect customers or arrange payment plans.

City of Morgan: Voiding penalties beginning the March billing cycle (April bills); waiving residential late fees during this period; arranging payment plans with customers. The utility’s statement implied that it will be suspending disconnections. It did not address the state’s request to reconnect customers who are currently disconnected for non-payment.

City of Nielsville Electric Utility: Extending the Cold Weather Rule, waiving late fees, and contacting residents to make payment plans. This policy is in effect until April 30 unless the state directs otherwise.

City of Randall Public Utilities: Waiving late fees, extending cold weather protection and will make payment arrangements with electric or natural gas customers experiencing a hardship due to the COVID19 outbreak.

City of Redwood Falls Public Utilities: Restricting disconnection of residential and small business customers for non-payment; waiving residential and small business late fees incurred due to economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; arranging payment plans based on the financial resources and circumstances of the customer. The utility’s statement did not address the state’s request to reconnect customers who are currently disconnected for non-payment.

City of Staples: Extending Cold Weather Protection, for those who are qualified, until May 13 or the state emergency is lifted, whichever is longer; postponing disconnection due to delinquent accounts for residential and small business customers that suffer hardship due to COVID-19; waiving late fees that residential and small business customers incur due to COVID-19. The City will require a payment plan from accounts that are delinquent due to hardship caused by COVID-19 and will request documentation to show that hardship occurred due to COVID-19. The City will continue with (but may delay) disconnects as usual for those who are delinquent and do not qualify for Cold Weather Protection, and who have not shown hardship due to COVID-19.

City of Stephen Public Works and Utilities Department: Restricting disconnection of residential and small business customers for non-payment, reconnecting customers who have been disconnected for the duration of the national security or state peacetime emergency; waiving residential and small business late fees incurred due to economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; arranging payment plans based on the financial resources and circumstances of the customer.

City of Waseca: Not disconnecting any residential or commercial customers for non-payment; waiving all electricity late fees; setting up payment plans for customers unable to pay. There are no disconnected properties that are currently occupied.

City of Windom: The City Council will consider a non-termination policy and a waiver of late fees for telecom services at their April 7 meeting.

City of Winthrop: Restricting disconnection of residential and small business customers for non-payment, reconnecting customers who have been disconnected for the duration of the national security or state peacetime emergency; waiving residential and small business late fees incurred due to economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; arranging payment plans based on the financial resources and circumstances of the customer.

Connexus Energy: Extending Cold Weather Rule protections until May 15 and possibly further, if Governor-issued emergency is extended; not assessing late fees to residential customers who set up payment arrangements during this time; setting up payment arrangements based on the resources and circumstances of members. As a result, residential members are not being disconnected at this time.

Cooperative Light and Power (Two Harbors): suspending disconnections.

Crow Wing Cooperative Power and Light: Restricting disconnection of residential and small business customers for non-payment, reconnecting customers who have been disconnected for the duration of the national security or state peacetime emergency; waiving residential and small business late fees incurred due to economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; arranging payment plans based on the financial resources and circumstances of the customer.

Dakota Electric Association: Suspending disconnections for the foreseeable future, offering to reconnect disconnected customers under the terms of the Cold Weather Rule with no payments or deposits; waiving future late fees for residential, farm, irrigation, small local business, and mid-size commercial members; making flexible payment arrangements, recognizing changing financial resources and circumstances of members due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Additional information.

Delano Municipal Utilities: Suspending electric and water disconnects until future notice; extending Cold Weather Rule to May 15; waiving late fees until future notice; accepting mutually agreed-upon payment arrangements from any customer. The utility’s statement did not address the state’s request to reconnect customers who are currently disconnected for non-payment.

Detroit Lakes Public Utilities Commission: Extending Cold Weather Protection rules through at least May 13; waiving late fees for the duration of the emergency declaration upon notice that they have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 emergency declaration; arranging payment plans with customers based on the financial resources and financial circumstances of the individual customers.

East Central Energy: Refraining from residential disconnections for 30 days beginning March 16, reconnecting previously disconnected customers as part of reasonable payment plan; waiving residential and small business late fees incurred due to economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; arranging payment plans based on the financial resources and circumstances of the customer. Additional information.

East Grand Forks Water and Light: Tentatively agrees to PUC recommendations. The Water and Light Commission will officially adopt the recommendations at its meeting on Wednesday, April 1.

Elk River Municipal Utilities: Restricting disconnection of residential and small business customers for non-payment, reconnecting customers who have been disconnected for the duration of the national security or state peacetime emergency; waiving residential and small business late fees incurred due to economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; arranging payment plans based on the financial resources and circumstances of the customer.

Fairmont Public Utilities: Restricting disconnection of residential customers for non-payment, reconnecting customers who have been disconnected for the duration of the national security or state peacetime emergency; waiving residential and small business late fees incurred due to economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; arranging payment plans based on the financial resources and circumstances of the customer.

Federated Rural Electric Association: Refraining from residential disconnections, reconnecting previously disconnected customers as part of reasonable payment plan; waiving residential and small business late fees incurred due to economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; arranging payment plans based on the financial resources and circumstances of the customer.

Freeborn-Mower Cooperative Services: Refraining from residential customer disconnections; suspending all late fees; arranging payment plans for customers requesting help based on the financial resources and circumstances of the customer. The utility’s statement did not address the state’s request to reconnect customers who are currently disconnected for non-payment.

Glencoe Light and Power Commission: Restricting disconnection of residential customers for non-payment, reconnecting customers who have been disconnected for the duration of the national security or state peacetime emergency; waiving residential and small business late fees incurred due to economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; arranging payment plans based on the financial resources and circumstances of the customer.

Goodhue County Cooperative Electric Association: Refraining from residential customer disconnections; suspending all late fees; arranging payment plans for customers requesting help based on the financial resources and circumstances of the customer. The utility’s statement did not address the state’s request to reconnect customers who are currently disconnected for non-payment.

Grand Marais Public Utilities: Restricting disconnection of residential customers for non-payment, reconnecting customers who have been disconnected for the duration of the national security or state peacetime emergency; waiving residential and small business late fees incurred due to economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; arranging payment plans based on the financial resources and circumstances of the customer. This policy was awaiting approval from the utility’s governing body as of March 30.

Great Plains Natural Gas Company: Restricting disconnection of residential and small business customers for non-payment, reconnecting customers who have been disconnected for the duration of the national security or state peacetime emergency; waiving residential and small business late fees incurred due to economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; arranging payment plans based on the financial resources and circumstances of the customer. Additional information.

Greater Minnesota Gas: Restricting disconnection of residential customers for non-payment, reconnecting customers, waiving late fees, arranging payment plans.

Hibbing Public Utilities: suspending disconnections until at least March 30.

Hutchinson Utilities Commission: Restricting disconnection of residential and small business customers for non-payment, reconnecting customers who have been disconnected for the duration of the national security or state peacetime emergency; waiving residential and small business late fees incurred due to economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; arranging payment plans based on the financial resources and circumstances of the customer.

Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative: The utility is continuing to send delinquent notices; the notices state “payment is due on or before May 1,” instead of the normal 12 days from date of notice. All late fees are being waved on past-due balances for the February billing period (March bill). The utility is making payment arrangements with customers. The utility’s statement did not address the state’s request to reconnect customers who are currently disconnected for non-payment.

Kandiyohi Power Cooperative: Refraining from residential customer disconnections; waiving residential and small business incurred because of economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; arranging payment plans for customers requesting help based on the financial resources and circumstances of the customer. There are no members currently disconnected.

Lake City Utilities: Restricting disconnection of residential customers for non-payment, reconnecting customers who have been disconnected for the duration of the national security or state peacetime emergency; waiving residential and small business late fees incurred due to economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; arranging payment plans based on the financial resources and circumstances of the customer.

Lake Country Power: Refraining from residential disconnections, reconnecting previously disconnected customers as part of reasonable payment plan; waiving residential and small business late fees incurred due to economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; arranging payment plans based on the financial resources and circumstances of the customer.

Lake Crystal Municipal Utilities: Restricting disconnection of residential customers for non-payment, reconnecting customers who have been disconnected for the duration of the national security or state peacetime emergency; waiving residential and small business late fees incurred due to economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; arranging payment plans based on the financial resources and circumstances of the customer.

Lake Region Electric Cooperative: Refraining from residential disconnections, reconnecting previously disconnected customers as part of reasonable payment plan; waiving residential and small business late fees incurred due to economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; arranging payment plans based on the financial resources and circumstances of the customer.

Litchfield Public Utilities: Restricting disconnection of residential customers for non-payment, reconnecting customers who have been disconnected for the duration of the national security or state peacetime emergency; waiving residential and small business late fees incurred due to economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; arranging payment plans based on the financial resources and circumstances of the customer. This policy was awaiting approval from the utility’s governing body as of March 30.

Marshall Municipal Utilities: The utility agrees to the state’s three requests. It initiated this on March 18 and plans to continue until mid-year; it will reevaluate in June.

McLeod Cooperative Power Association: Suspending disconnections and late fees on delinquent accounts due to the COVID-19 pandemic; waiving credit/debit card fees; setting up payment plans with members. There is additional information on the utility’s website.

MiEnergy Power Cooperative: Acknowledging the extended Cold Weather Rule and working with members accordingly as needed, suspending late penalty charges until further notice, working with customers to arrange payment plans.

Minnesota Energy Resources: Suspending residential and small business disconnections; reconnecting customers entering into payment plans; waiving late fees for residential and small business customers who have entered into payment plan. Additional information.

Minnesota Power: Suspending disconnections for residential and small business (general service) customers facing financial hardship in relation to the coronavirus pandemic; extending the Cold Weather Rule through May 31, with further consideration at that time; arranging payment plans and options based on customers’ financial resources and circumstances; waiving late payment charges for residential and small business (general service) customers who are affected by the pandemic; waiving reconnection fees during normal business hours for residential and small business (general service) customers previously disconnected for non-payment.

Minnesota Valley Electric Cooperative (Jordan): Refraining from residential disconnections, reconnecting previously disconnected customers as part of reasonable payment plan; waiving residential and small business late fees incurred due to economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; arranging payment plans based on the financial resources and circumstances of the customer. Additional information.

Moose Lake Water and Light: Restricting disconnection of residential and small business customers for non-payment, reconnecting customers who have been disconnected for the duration of the national security or state peacetime emergency; waiving residential and small business late fees incurred due to economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; arranging payment plans based on the financial resources and circumstances of the customer.

Mora Municipal Utilities: Restricting disconnection of residential customers for non-payment, reconnecting customers who have been disconnected for the duration of the national security or state peacetime emergency; waiving residential and small business late fees incurred due to economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; arranging payment plans based on the financial resources and circumstances of the customer.

Moorhead Public Service: suspending disconnections until future notice and will temporarily reconnect customers who are currently under involuntary disconnection.

New Prague Municipal Utilities: Restricting disconnection of residential customers for non-payment, reconnecting customers who have been disconnected for the duration of the national security or state peacetime emergency; waiving residential and small business late fees incurred due to economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; arranging payment plans based on the financial resources and circumstances of the customer.

Nobles Electric Cooperative: Refraining from residential disconnections, reconnecting previously disconnected customers as part of reasonable payment plan; waiving residential and small business late fees incurred due to economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; arranging payment plans based on the financial resources and circumstances of the customer.

North Branch Municipal Water and Light: Restricting disconnection of residential customers for non-payment, reconnecting customers who have been disconnected for the duration of the national security or state peacetime emergency; waiving residential and small business late fees incurred due to economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; arranging payment plans based on the financial resources and circumstances of the customer.

North Itasca Electric Cooperative: Refraining from residential disconnections, reconnecting previously disconnected customers as part of reasonable payment plan; waiving residential and small business late fees incurred due to economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; arranging payment plans based on the financial resources and circumstances of the customer.

North Star Electric Cooperative: Refraining from residential disconnections, reconnecting previously disconnected customers as part of reasonable payment plan; waiving residential and small business late fees incurred due to economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; arranging payment plans based on the financial resources and circumstances of the customer.

Northwestern Wisconsin Electric Company: Extending Cold Weather Rule and ceasing disconnections for non-payment during the health emergency; waiving late fees on all customer classes during the health emergency; working out payment plans with all customers that meet their needs during the health emergency. No Minnesota customers are currently disconnected for non-payment.

Otter Tail Power Company: Suspending disconnections, reconnecting customers who have been disconnected for the duration of the national security or peacetime emergency; waiving late fees; working with customers to establish payment plans that account for the current circumstances. Additional information.

Owatonna Public Utilities: Suspending customer shut-offs, reconnecting customers who were previously disconnected; waiving all late fees; working with customers on payment arrangements. Additional information.

People’s Energy Cooperative: Refraining from residential disconnections, reconnecting previously disconnected customers as part of reasonable payment plan; waiving residential and small business late fees incurred due to economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; arranging payment plans based on the financial resources and circumstances of the customer. Additional information.

PKM Electric Cooperative: Refraining from residential disconnections, reconnecting previously disconnected customers as part of reasonable payment plan; waiving residential and small business late fees incurred due to economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; arranging payment plans based on the financial resources and circumstances of the customer.

Preston Public Utilities: Restricting disconnection of residential customers for non-payment, reconnecting customers who have been disconnected for the duration of the national security or state peacetime emergency; waiving residential and small business late fees incurred due to economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; arranging payment plans based on the financial resources and circumstances of the customer.

Princeton Public Utilities: Restricting disconnection of residential customers for non-payment, reconnecting customers who have been disconnected for the duration of the national security or state peacetime emergency; waiving residential and small business late fees incurred due to economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; arranging payment plans based on the financial resources and circumstances of the customer.

Proctor Public Utilities: Effective with the April billing cycle for service in March and continuing for a time period TBD, not disconnecting water or electric utilities for non-payment; not charging new late fees. At the conclusion of this time period, customers will be required to st up a payment plan to satisfy past-due account balances or face disconnection. Depending on circumstances, payment plans will not exceed three months. Additional information.

Red Lake Electric Cooperative: Refraining from residential disconnections, reconnecting previously disconnected customers as part of reasonable payment plan; waiving residential and small business late fees incurred due to economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; arranging payment plans based on the financial resources and circumstances of the customer.

Red River Valley Co-op Powersuspending disconnections until further notice.

Redwood Electric Cooperative: Temporarily extending the Cold Weather Rule and extending Cold Weather Protection to commercial services; temporarily waiving late fees; working with members to make payment arrangements.

Renville-Sibley Cooperative Power Association: Refraining from residential disconnections, reconnecting previously disconnected customers as part of reasonable payment plan; waiving residential and small business late fees incurred due to economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; arranging payment plans based on the financial resources and circumstances of the customer.

Rochester Public Utilities: Restricting disconnection of residential customers for non-payment, reconnecting customers who have been disconnected for the duration of the national security or state peacetime emergency; waiving residential and small business late fees incurred due to economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; arranging payment plans based on the financial resources and circumstances of the customer.

Runestone Electric Association: Refraining from residential disconnections, reconnecting previously disconnected customers as part of reasonable payment plan; waiving residential and small business late fees incurred due to economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; arranging payment plans based on the financial resources and circumstances of the customer.

Sauk Center Public Utilities: Making payment arrangements for customers based on their financial resources and circumstances. The response did not address the state’s requests regarding disconnections, reconnections, or late fees.

Shakopee Public Utilitiessuspended disconnections for at least 30 days beginning March 17.

Sioux Valley Energy: Refraining from residential disconnections, reconnecting previously disconnected customers as part of reasonable payment plan; waiving residential and small business late fees incurred due to economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; arranging payment plans based on the financial resources and circumstances of the customer.

South Central Electric Association: Temporarily suspending disconnections for non-payment; reconnecting any members previously disconnected upon their request; temporarily waiving late fees; working with members to make payment arrangements.

Spring Valley Public Utilities: Suspending discussions during the COVID-19 outbreak; waiving late fees for all customers; working with customers to arrange payment plans. The response did not address the state’s request regarding reconnecting customers who are currently disconnected.

St. Peter Public Utilities: Restricting disconnection of residential customers for non-payment, reconnecting customers who have been disconnected for the duration of the national security or state peacetime emergency; waiving residential and small business late fees incurred due to economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; arranging payment plans based on the financial resources and circumstances of the customer.

Stearns Electric Association: Refraining from residential disconnections; waiving residential and small business late fees incurred due to economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; arranging payment plans based on the financial resources and circumstances of the customer. The response did not address the state’s request regarding reconnecting customers who are currently disconnected.

Steele-Waseca Cooperative Electric: Restricting disconnections during the requested time frame; waiving late penalty charges to residential and small business customers during the requested time frame; making mutually agreed-upon payment arrangements during the requested time frame. The response did not address the state’s request regarding reconnecting customers who are currently disconnected.

Traverse Electric Cooperative: Acknowledging the extended Cold Weather Rule and working with members accordingly as needed; waiving residential and small business late fees incurred due to economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; arranging payment plans based on the financial resources and circumstances of the customer.

Wells Public Utilities: Restricting disconnection of residential customers for non-payment, reconnecting customers who have been disconnected for the duration of the national security or state peacetime emergency; waiving residential and small business late fees incurred due to economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; arranging payment plans based on the financial resources and circumstances of the customer.

Wild Rice Electric Cooperative: Refraining from residential disconnections, reconnecting previously disconnected customers as part of reasonable payment plan; waiving residential and small business late fees incurred due to economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; arranging payment plans based on the financial resources and circumstances of the customer.

Worthington Public Utilities: Extending the Cold Weather Rule protections through at least May 15; expanding Cold Weather Rule protections to include water service; waiving late fees during the emergency declaration; arranging payment plans based on the financial resources and circumstances of the customer. The response did not address the state’s request regarding reconnecting customers who are currently disconnected.

Wright-Hennepin Cooperative Electric Association: Suspending disconnections for nonpayment; suspending late fees for members who have incurred negative economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; arranging payment plans with members. The response did not address the state’s request regarding reconnecting customers who are currently disconnected. Additional information.

Xcel Energy: Suspending disconnections for residential customers consistent with Minnesota’s Cold Weather Rule; waiving late fees for residential and small business customers affected by the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic; arranging payment plans that reflect the financial resources and circumstances of each customer. The response states that Xcel has “voluntarily undertaken all of the actions identified in the Commission and Department’s letter,” but does not address the state’s request regarding reconnecting customers who are currently disconnected. Additional information.

 

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Author: Annie Levenson-Falk

10 Responses to "Minnesota utilities suspending disconnections during COVID-19"

  1. Kathy Tingelstad Posted on March 18, 2020 at 4:28 pm

    Thanks for your update. We have heard nothing from Connexus Energy–other than a Facebook.post that says “Closed!”

  2. Jen Posted on March 19, 2020 at 9:23 am

    Good Morning, Everyone in Clarkfield, MN has heard nothing in regards to what is going to happen besides they will be closed. There are residents that don’t have means of internet, so how do the cities notify everyone?

  3. Annie Levenson-Falk Posted on March 19, 2020 at 9:38 am

    Kathy — Some utilities are advertising the new policy more broadly than others, but Connexus has confirmed to us that they will not be disconnecting any residential customers.

    Jen — Which utilities would you like to know about? We can put them at the top of our list and try to get more information, and can suggest they share information via the local news outlets. For people in town: Xcel Energy has said they’ve stopped disconnections and are working on reconnections. Great Plains Natural Gas has said they won’t disconnect people for hardships related to COVID-19.

    Would you please let us know if you or others you know of are having difficulties?

  4. colson Posted on March 20, 2020 at 8:16 am

    Here’s the email i received from Connexus……… As COVID-19 continues to have an impact on all of us, I want to assure you that we are here to meet your energy needs. Our homes are more important than ever before, as we all prepare to spend more time there. With schools turning to distant learning, and a growing number of people telecommuting from home, we are here to keep the lights on for you.

    While, we’d like to say it’s “business as usual,” there’s nothing “usual” about the current state of things. Our staff is just as vulnerable as anyone, so we are making adjustments to lower COVID-19 exposure risks. We’re doing that by encouraging our staff to work remotely whenever possible.

    As our member, we’re asking for your help and understanding on a few items:
    Our lobby is now closed to all visitors.
    Our member service team is available via phone and online chat, Monday – Friday, from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
    If you are directly impacted by COVID-19, we do not wish disconnect service. Please contact us to make payment arrangements if you are facing a financial hardship.
    We are reducing exposure risk to ensure our line workers, member service representatives, and other critical staff continue to deliver reliable, responsive, and friendly service. Outages will still happen, and we will respond as always.
    We have suspended offering new Wi-Fi thermostat installations.
    If you need to make a payment, we have several options available, including paying online or by phone, using our payment drop box, or signing up for auto draft. You can explore all our payment options at connexusenergy.com.
    As a cooperative member, we encourage you to vote in the upcoming director elections. While our annual meeting will for the first time be closed to visitors other than director candidates, we will hold the meeting. Election results will be announced. Look for more details on our website as we get closer to the April 16 meeting date.
    We are committed to delivering safe and reliable electricity to you. And, like every Minnesotan, we hold a view that this too will pass. Keep safe.

    Greg Ridderbusch
    Connexus Energy CEO

  5. Danna Posted on March 21, 2020 at 1:04 am

    How about other utilities? Like internet, phone; whether landline or cell, etc.
    I live in Granite Falls, Minnesota and nothing has been said from our city. I just got a bill from mediacom saying that I’m going to get my internet shut off soon and we have our landline phone through them. Haven’t heard anything from Verizon about suspending disconnects either.

  6. Annie Levenson-Falk Posted on March 21, 2020 at 2:56 pm

    Danna: Phone and internet aren’t our areas of expertise, but both Mediacom and Verizon have signed the FCC’s voluntary “Keep Americans Connected” pledge, promising for the 60 days following March 13:

    (1) not terminate service to any residential or small business customers because of their inability to pay their bills due to the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic;
    (2) waive any late fees that any residential or small business customers incur because of their economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; and
    (3) open its Wi-Fi hotspots to any American who needs them.

    Here is information about the FCC pledge: https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DOC-363033A1.pdf.

    Verizon has posted its COVID-19 policy here: https://www.verizon.com/about/news/our-response-coronavirus.

    For both companies, if you are having trouble with bills, we recommend you contact customer service and ask to discuss your options during the COVID-19 emergency.

  7. Michael Posted on March 23, 2020 at 12:01 pm

    Does anyone know if the Red River Valley utilities companies are following this as well. I grew up and live in Halstad, MN and I’ve had the utilities company here notify me of disconnecting my utilities by April 15. Someone help? My brown skin isn’t exactly gonna help me here more…

  8. Annie Levenson-Falk Posted on March 25, 2020 at 10:23 am

    Red River Valley Co-Op Power is no longer disconnecting customers for nonpayment. Like everywhere else, customers are still encouraged to pay what they can to help avoid a larger bill down the road, and you should contact them to discuss your situation and work out a payment plan.

    Our outreach team can help you if you need it, too. You can contact CUB’s Outreach Director Carmen Carruthers, carmenc@cubminnesota.org or 651-300-4701 ext. 2.

  9. Lindsey Schwartz Posted on March 28, 2020 at 10:39 pm

    Danna,
    Have you heard anything about granite falls utilities not shutting people off during this time? I live there to and am worried about our bills.

  10. Annie Levenson-Falk Posted on April 2, 2020 at 8:00 am

    Danna and Lindsey, the City of Granite Falls has said they aren’t shutting people off. For now it applies for the month of April, and they’ll be reviewing on a monthly basis. Here is their statement: https://www.edockets.state.mn.us/EFiling/edockets/searchDocuments.do?method=showPoup&documentId={A0593771-0000-CC1E-80BC-B109973075C7}&documentTitle=20204-161736-01.

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