Don’t let the utilities shut off people’s power

Power lines (photo from Creative Commons CC BY 2.0
On June 11, the Public Service Commission (PSC) made a terrible decision: It allowed utilities in Wisconsin to start disconnecting power, as of July 25, from people who’ve fallen behind on their payments.Gov. Evers, to his credit, in March urged the PSC to issue a moratorium on such shut-offs, which it did, until July 25, on the assumption that the coronavirus pandemic would be under control by now and that our economy would be humming.But neither is true. The pandemic is back with a vengeance, and the unemployment rate stands at 12 percent.

Many people simply can’t pay their utilities right now. To allow the utility companies to shut them off will be a disaster.

It will be life-threatening for many in the sweltering summer heat.

It will deprive thousands of their ability to get on the Internet and thereby interfere with their ability to get or hold a job.

It will also likely have a disproportionate negative effect on people of color, who already are facing the brunt of this pandemic and this recession.

The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign is joining with the Sierra Club, Citizen Action of Wisconsin, and other nonprofit groups in urging the Public Service Commission to reverse its decision and to the moratorium until next April.

We are also urging utilities to have a heart and to not shut off power to people who need it to stay healthy, safe and connected.

Utilities are big players in the influence peddling game in the state capitol.

Over the last ten years, they’ve contributed almost $3 million to candidates and committees ($2,947,733). This includes large individual, PAC, and corporate contributions. About 72% went to Republicans and 28% to Democrats.

• Here’s a list of the top six recipients:

• Former Gov. Scott Walker, $583,297

• Republican Assembly Campaign Committee, $322,483

• Committee to Elect a Republican Senate, $294,896

• State Senate Democratic Committee, $153,901

• Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee, $119,483

• Gov. Tony Evers, $116,025

Please contact the PSC commissioners and urge them to change their minds on this issue and to extend this much-needed moratorium.

Here’s where you can contact them: [email protected].