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State extends ban on utility disconnections amid COVID-19

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — State regulators have extended a ban on utility disconnections during the coronavirus pandemic in Wisconsin.

The Public Service Commission voted 2-1 Thursday to continue a moratorium on shutoffs until Oct. 1. That will temporarily prevent more than 93,000 customer from losing their utility service next month.

A PSC survey of nearly 200 utilities shows about a third of Wisconsin’s 1.4 million households are behind on their utility bills. In comparison, 13% of residential customers were behind in April of the two previous years.

Chairwoman Rebecca Valcq said utility service remains critical to public health, the State Journal reported.

“If we disconnect customers and send them out to places to congregate … in order to stay cool, or they lose the ability to maintain hygiene, that to me outweighs the ability to pay and the fact that the unemployment rate is getting better,” Valcq said. “We’re not going to get through this if we don’t start acting like adults. We have to start following the guidelines if we want to get out of this crisis.”

Last month the PSC voted to extend the ban to Sept. 1. The commission will discuss the moratorium again on Sept. 17.

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