Pittsburgh, PA - Today the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority’s Board of Directors adopted a resolution to continue the suspension of water shutoffs through March 31, 2021. This extension follows the timeline of PWSA’s Winter Shutoff Moratorium and applies to all residential customers regardless of income.
The Board’s decision follows an October 8th order issued by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC), which allows water disconnections to resume on November 9th for all residential and non-residential customers. The state order continues to protect residential customers that are at or below 300% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) and requires utilities to offer payment plans for non-residential customers.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, PWSA has taken thoughtful steps to protect customers and make it easier for customers to access and enroll in its Customer Assistance Programs. In addition to suspending water shutoffs, we have also waived the recertification requirements for our Bill Discount Program and the sincere effort payment typically required for those enrolled in the Hardship Grant Program. These changes are currently in effect through the end of the year.
Our recent rate settlement proposal submitted to the PUC on September 30th includes several enhancements to our assistance programs. If approved by the PUC, the discount available through the Bill Discount Program would increase from 75% on fixed charges to 100% and some eligible customers could receive a 20% reduction on water usage charges. The threshold for our Winter Shutoff Moratorium would increase from 250% of the FPL to 300%. Under our expanded customer assistance outreach program, we hope to increase enrollment in our assistance programs and help customers reduce their bills. If approved by the PUC, these changes will be effective on or after January 14, 2021.
“Extending the shutoff moratorium for all of our residential customers until next spring is the responsible action in light of continued uncertainty from the pandemic,” stated Will Pickering, PWSA Executive Director. “Families that are struggling to stay current on their bills are encouraged to contact us. We have simplified enrollment for our assistance programs and are offering flexible payment arrangements to help reduce unpaid balances. We hope that our customers will take advantage of these programs during this difficult time.”
Extending the suspension of water shutoffs and expanding our Customer Assistance Programs is the right thing to do. During this difficult time, when many are facing unexpected financial hardships, they should not have to choose between paying their water bill and other essential expenses. PWSA is taking every reasonable step to keep rates as low as possible and address the affordability concerns of our lower-income customers.
For more information about our Customer Assistance Programs, please visit www.pgh2o.com/CAP and to enroll, contact Dollar Energy Fund at (866) 762-2348. For more information about our recent rate settlement, please visit www.pgh2o.com/ourwaterfuture.
“This moment of economic uncertainty has created unexpected hardships for many of our customers,” stated Paul Leger, chair of PWSA’s Board of Directors. “The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority is being a good community partner by expanding its assistance programs and making them available to more customers. With our new additional customer assistance outreach, which is part of our rate settlement to the PUC, we hope to enroll more customers into these programs and help them reduce their water bills.”
The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) is the largest combined water, sewer and stormwater authority in Pennsylvania, serving 300,000 consumers throughout the City of Pittsburgh and surrounding areas.