COLUMBUS—State Rep. David Leland (D-Columbus) introduced legislation Monday morning to prevent utility shutoffs to residences during the COVID-19 crisis. In addition to utilities regulated by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO), the bill would require unregulated utilities and submetering companies to continue to provide service through the emergency.
“A lot of people are taking a big hit to their income,” said Leland. “As we all stay at home to fight this common enemy, we need to make sure Ohioans don’t have their lights turned off because they can’t make a payment.”
PUCO has instructed its utility companies to review and change policies that might risk service continuity hardships for their ratepayers, and most regulated utilities have said publicly they plan to continue providing service through the next several months. Some unregulated utilities, however, along with smaller submetering companies have not issued similar statements, and most have not guaranteed service for the duration of the state of emergency.
“This bill covers everyone – it makes sure no one is left out in the cold,” said Leland.
The bill comes on the heels of the introduction of another basic needs bill, which was joint sponsored by Rep. Leland and Rep. Jeffrey Crossman (D-Parma) on Sunday. That legislation would prevent evictions and foreclosures for the duration of the crisis in Ohio. Both bills include emergency clauses, meaning they would take effect immediately upon being signed.