With utility bills rising, more and more California consumers face the threat of being shut off from essential heat, light and hot water.
Shutoffs already affect over 2 million Californians, most of whom are children. TURN thinks that is 2 million too many, and is a sponsor of Senator Ben Hueso’s (D- San Diego) SB 598. Senate Bill 598 aims to reduce shutoffs, which threaten the health and safety of many in our communities. It would also forbid shutting off medically vulnerable customers. Now, even customers in home hospice care can be left in the dark.
In addition, the CPUC would be required to give consumer impacts more consideration before approving rate hikes. “Right now, the CPUC is making crucial decisions that impact basic affordability in the dark,” said TURN executive director Mark Toney. “As a result, more customers are facing the terror of cold, dark homes.”
Toney said the CPUC has allowed utility bills to skyrocket without regard to the urgent health and safety problems created by shutoffs, which affect some of the most vulnerable people in our state. As a result, PG&E, SDG&E, SoCal Edison and SoCal Gas are leaving over 800,000 households without essential services every year.
Rosie Sanchez-Ulloa, Community Organizing Manager at the City Heights CDC in San Diego, said “the majority of our residents struggle to pay their basic day-to-day necessities. Our residents are severely impacted by utility shutoffs both physically and emotionally. The lack of affordability causes a health threat to them. By way of Senator Huesos’s introduction of SB 598, he demonstrates his support for ending shutoffs and shows his genuine concern for the health and livelihood of the people of San Diego.”
Senator Hueso’s legislation also requires utility companies to reduce disconnections that threaten customers’ health and safety, and prohibits shutoffs of medically at risk customers who depend on life support equipment.
“Customers lives are literally at risk,” said Toney. “There is simply no justification for ever shutting off a customer who is dependent on life support equipment. Please join us in urging the legislature to adopt these common sense requirements to protect the health of our most vulnerable neighbors.”