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Maryland extends moratorium on utility shutoffs through Nov. 15, citing coronavirus pandemic

The Maryland Public Service Commission has extended the moratorium on terminating residential gas, water and electric services through Nov. 15, citing the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

In a news release, the commission wrote its emergency action Monday will extend the moratorium previously authorized by Gov. Larry Hogan, which after some month-long extensions was set to expire on Sept. 1. Hogan’s executive action prohibited utility providers from cutting off service or charging late fees.

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Monday’s actions will prohibit utilities from sending out termination notices until Oct. 1, 45 days in advance of a termination, the commission wrote.

In addition, residential customers will have 45 days to work out a payment plan with utility providers.

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“The decision rendered today by the Commission is a first step in balancing the needs of many and varied stakeholders as we try to place ourselves on a sustainable path to emerge from this crisis in a measures and prudent manner and with a cooperative spirit,” wrote Commissioner Anthony J. O’Donnell.

Howard County Executive Calvin Ball praised the commission’s actions, writing in a statement that “many of our neighbors are still having difficulty making ends meet.”

“Especially with the approaching school year being virtual, we’re thankful to the Public Service Commission for recognizing there are many Marylanders, including Howard County residents, who are still struggling to pay their utility bills,” Ball wrote in a statement.

In May, utility provider Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. proposed freezing customers’ base rates for delivery for the next two years, then raising them by 8.3% in 2023 — what amounts to a $12.87 increase on the average customer’s monthly bill.

Baltimore Sun reporter Colin Campbell contributed to this article.

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