What to do if you get a Utility Shut Off Notice in Philadelphia (Video)
Authored By: Community Legal Services of Philadelphia
This video from Community Legal Services of Philadelphia explains the steps you should take if you receive a utility shut off notice in Philadelphia.
Transcript of Video:
What to do if you receive a Shut Off Notice.
By law, PECO and PGW must send you a shutoff notice by mail ten days before they actually shut off your electric or gas service. Here are some ways to help you keep your gas and electricity on when you receive a shutoff notice.
Join an affordability program
Contact your utility to find out if you are eligible for their bill affordability program. PECO’s program is called CAP. PGW’s program is called CRP. If you have previously been on CAP or CRP, ask the utility if there is a catchup or cure amount you can pay to get back on the program.
Apply for grant assistance
Check to see if there is grant assistance available to cover some or all of your bill. LIHEAP, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, is available through the welfare office during the winter months, generally from early November to early April. Grant assistance is also available through the Utility Emergency Services Fund, or UESF.
Find a Payment arrangement
Ask PECO or PGW whether they will give you a payment arrangement on the balance, in order to break the amount you owe up into more affordable payments. If you already have a payment arrangement, ask if there is a catchup amount you can pay in order to get back on track.
Only agree to a payment arrangement that you know you are able to afford, as the number of payment arrangements you can get are limited.
If you disagree with the amount that you owe, DO NOT agree to a payment arrangement, file a complaint instead.
Get a medical certificate
If someone in your household has a serious illness or medical condition, contact the utility and let them know. You may be eligible for a medical certificate – a form signed by your doctor that will give you a 30-day hold on the shutoff. After you’re approved, you can extend this hold by getting up to two renewal certificates. If you pay all of the new charges that you are billed while on a medical certificate, you could be eligible for additional certificates.
If you believe the utility has improperly billed you or otherwise violated your rights, you can file a complaint with the Public Utility Commission. You cannot be shutoff while the PUC looks into your complaint, but you will still be responsible for paying undisputed bills. Call the Bureau of Consumer Services at 1-800-692-7380.
If you owe a lot of money, and cannot get an affordable agreement, you may want to file for bankruptcy. Contact an attorney to discuss whether bankruptcy is a good option for you.
If you need legal help or advice, contact Community Legal Services at 215-981-3700 or 215-227-2400. Come to walk-in hours Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9 AM to noon at either our Center City or North Philly office; or find self-help materials on our website at https://clsphila.org/services/utilities/.