The Following Information is from NEFI
NEFI learned of a new Senate bill this week that aims to prevent home energy service providers from disconnecting or interrupting service during the COVID-19 public health emergency – even if a customer is unable to pay. The bill’s sponsor, Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), has sought to include it among Democrats’ list of demands for the next coronavirus relief package.
The bill is nearly identical to Sec.190701 in the House-passed HEROES Act. It requires any entity that receives funding under the bill (states, municipalities, etc.) to enact policies that prohibit utilities and other service providers from shutting off home energy and water services during the pandemic. It uses the definition of “home energy” found in Section 2603 the LIHEAP statute, which covers all heating and cooling products. NEFI is therefore concerned that heating oil and propane deliveries will be covered if the bill is enacted.
The Senate bill, known as the Emergency Water and Energy is a Human Right Act, is cosponsored by Senators Blumenthal (D-CT), Brown (D-OH), Gillibrand (D-NY), Harris (D-CA), Markey (D-MA), Murray (D-WA), Warren (D-MA), and Wyden (D-OR). We have reached out to several of these cosponsors and other friendly Senate offices to express our concerns. We are also communicating and sharing intel with the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA).
We will regroup with GAC Chairman Scott MacFarlane and the NEFI leadership early next week and see where things stand.