MINE HILL, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — The clock is ticking for an extension on an extended moratorium that will keep the lights on for hundreds of thousands of New Jersey residents.
But right now, Gov. Phil Murphy‘s office is not releasing specific details on the moratorium, and when it will happen.
CBS2’s Cory James spoke Monday with people who are worried about their electricity being cut off.
They said they can barely sleep at night. They fear that in three days, their late payments will result in their power being turned off.
“I saw the dollar amount first and it was like I almost passed out,” said Racquel Kooper.
It’s a letter no-one wants to receive: A power cut off warning. Kooper received a pending shutoff notice days ago from her utility company. It informed the single mother of three her past due amount is over $2,300.
“I don’t even know how I’m going to pay this,” she said.
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Kooper said prior to the coronavirus pandemic she worked four part-time jobs to make ends meet. Now she is down to two. With less money coming in, but more bills piling up, Kooper is struggling to keep their lights on while working from home.
“I absolutely need to be able to go online and I need my electric. I need my hot water. My children are there,” she said. “Their school is 100% virtual, so they need electricity.”
For months, thousands of people in New Jersey received temporary relief because of Murphy’s utility shut-off moratorium. It stopped the state’s public water, gas and electric companies from turning off service to residential and business customers impacted by the pandemic.
However, that is scheduled to end Thursday.
Utility advocate Evelyn Liebman wants the governor to follow the path of neighboring states, like New York.
“We are calling on the Murphy administration to extend the moratorium at least until through the state of healthy emergency,” she said.
Tom Churchelow, president of the New Jersey Utilities Association, said he has been communicating with Murphy’s office about the moratorium extension.
He told CBS2 customers should reach out to their utility company to see what can be done to help them until decisions are made.
“There are enhanced payment arrangements and assistance programs available, so customers shouldn’t hesitate to call their utility,” he said.
But Kooper said she was unsuccessful with getting any assistance, leaving her with an unsettling feeling of what can happen at any time.
“You don’t want to go to sleep at night wondering, like, is tomorrow the day? Are they going to come cut the electric?” she said.
James reached out to all three utility companies. Only PSE&G got back to him, saying it will not comment on an extended moratorium until a decision is made.
Gov. Murphy’s office said he will do an extension, but when James asked for specific details, he was told that will be released later this week.
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