Mayor Frank Jackson announces Cleveland Public Power moratorium on shutoffs
CUSTOMERS WHO HAVE HAD POWER SHUTOFF CAN REQUEST SERVICE BE RESTORED
by Delaney Jones and Jacie Jones
(Plain Press, April 2020) This article is the fourth in a series based on issues that came out of the Cleveland End Poverty Now Coalition’s October 17th, 2019 public hearing about utility shutoffs through Cleveland Public Power (CPP).
The first article focused on the issues that customers face when applying for assistance to avoid shutoffs. The second highlighted the lack of due process and proper notification. The third article focused on the absence of affordable payment plans. This article will discuss CPP’s recent commitment to reconnecting power for those shut off due to COVID-19 concerns. Future articles will discuss electricity being turned off for people with medical issues and an over 50% surcharge on customers’ bills called the “Energy Adjustment Charge” which has yet to be adequately explained by CPP.
On March 13th, Mayor Frank Jackson announced that city water and power departments (which includes CPP) will temporarily cease turning off service to residents until further notice. This was part of an effort to address growing concerns and threats to the safety and wellbeing of Clevelanders due to COVID-19.
In addition, customers who already have their power shut off can request to have their service restored, even if they are still arrears in their payments.
However, there is nothing on the CPP website that provides any information as to how an individual resident or family can get their power turned back on. In fact, although their website states that they will not be turning any more CPP customers’ power off, they do not mention the restoration policy.
CPP’s commitment to a temporary moratorium on shutoffs and restoration of service to those disconnected represents an important recognition of the gravity of threats to safety and wellbeing that this outbreak presents for Cleveland’s most vulnerable populations. These steps are essential for the wellbeing of many CPP customers.
Still, they apparently do not want to fulfill their commitment to restore the power as promised to residents who have been previously shut off. The End Poverty Now Coalition has formally asked CPP to send a physical mailing to the addresses of all customers who are currently shut off, explaining information on how they can go about getting reconnected.
In the meantime, almost all CPP customers without power are unaware of this opportunity. If you are a CPP customer currently without power, call CPP at 216-664-4600 to discuss options for the restoration of service.
If you have had your power turned and you call to have it restored, the End Poverty Now Coalition would like to hear your experiences in getting it restored. You can email Jacie@organizeohio.org or call (216) 651-2606.
COVID-19 concerns present many unknowns for the future. It is possible that we will hit a point in which safety concerns have been mitigated and CPP returns to their normal policies and operations. At that time, it is possible that we could see an extremely high number of shutoffs due to lack of payment during this tumultuous period where many people are losing income and making difficult decisions about what bills to pay and what to put off.
Looking forward, it will be important that as we move out of a state of emergency and transition back to more normal operations, CPP must implement a grace period in which financial forgiveness and reasonable repayment plans are made available.
In prioritizing immediate needs, it is imperative that CPP inform all customers without power that they can have their service reconnected. As a community, we must do everything we can to take care of our most vulnerable members. Having electricity is one key aspect to build a just and humane society.
Editor’s Note: Delaney Jones and Jacie Jones are Organize Ohio staff members working with the Cleveland End Poverty Now Coalition.