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Missouri panel rejects moratorium on utility shutoffs during pandemic

Missouri panel rejects moratorium on utility shutoffs during pandemic

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Missouri utility disconnection moratorium expires

Mary Boyd stands on the balcony of her apartment in Hazelwood on Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020, where she has been quarantining at home after testing positive for COVID-19 last week. She has been unable to take any shifts at work, which has left her with a several-hundred dollar electric bill that she doesn't have the money for. The utility assistance charity Heat Up St. Louis has agreed to help Boyd but after the Missouri utility disconnection moratorium expired demand for assistance exceeds the charity's funds. Photo by David Carson, dcarson@post-dispatch.com

JEFFERSON CITY — The state Public Service Commission has rejected an effort to prevent utility companies from disconnecting residential services during the COVID-19 pandemic, the commission said in a statement Wednesday.

The Consumers Council of Missouri, which advocates on behalf of consumer interests, had requested an emergency order for a moratorium on disconnections through at least March 31.

But the commission determined it didn't have the authority to grant the council's request, according to the statement.

“The commission has carefully reviewed Consumer Council’s motion and shares its concern for the well-being of utility customers and all Missouri citizens during the pandemic,” the commission said. “However, the commission can only take the actions it is has been authorized by the state legislature to take."

The state regulators also asserted that the council didn't prove that the moratorium was necessary "to protect the public from an immediate danger … ."

A representative for the St. Louis-based council could not be reached Wednesday for a response to the commission's decision.

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