Press Release-Governor Murphy Signs Executive Order Extending Utility Shutoff Moratorium Through March 15, 2021
October 15, 2020
New Jersey Division of Rate Counsel COVID-19-Arrearages Petition
October 2, 2020
Governor Murphy’s Executive Orders:
Executive Order No. 103, N.J.S.A. App. A:9-45 & App. A:9-47, March 9, 2020, declared a State of Emergency and a Public Health Emergency, effective immediately
Executive Order No. 119, April 7, 2020, extended the State of Emergency under Executive Order No. 103
Executive Order No. 107, March 21, 2020, directed all residents to stay at home until further notice unless engaged in certain prioritized activities. It also ordered all non-essential retail businesses to close their premises to the public; directed all businesses and non-profits to accommodate their workforce wherever practicable for telework or work-from-home arrangements; where employees cannot telework or work from home, directed best efforts to reduce staff on site to the minimal number necessary to continue essential operations; and closed all elementary and secondary schools, and institutions of higher education. EO127 also memorialized the Governor’s instruction to all State departments and agencies to utilize work-from-home arrangement for both essential and non-essential employees wherever feasible.
Executive Order 122, April 8, 2020, ordered all non-essential construction projects to cease. Utility project were deemed “essential construction projects” that may continue. This order also imposed additional public health mitigation requirements on essential retail businesses and industries that continue.
Executive Order No. 126, April 13, 2020, prohibited cable and telecommunications providers from terminating internet and voice service
Executive Order 127, April 14, 2020, extending certain deadlines associated with administrative rulemaking. Depending on the rule, certain statutory and regulatory deadlines are extended beyond the expiration of the State of Emergency by a specified number of days.
Executive Order-190, October 15, 2020, extends the utility shutoff moratorium through March 15, 2021 and provides other relief to ratepayers.
Board of Public Utilities Order
May 1st announcement by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities clarifying Governor Murphy’s Executive Order 122. The clarification declares that solar projects are essential construction projects that may proceed during the public health emergency.
I/M/O New Jersey Board of Public Utilities’ Response to the Covid-19 Pandemic for a Temporary Waiver of Requirements for Certain Non-Essential Obligations, BPU Docket No. EO20030254 (March 19, 2020)
Citing the authority of Executive Order No. 103, and its own authority to relax or permit deviation from its rules in special cases and for good cause shown, N.J.A.C. 14:1 et seq., in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, in order to ensure the continuity of government services and protect the public during the State of Emergency, the Board ordered:
all regulated public utilities must immediately cease any in-home or business visits unless there is an immediate risk to health and safety;
broadband internet providers may continue to connect new customers or repair existing service for homes with school age children, those who need internet access to meet job requirements, or other priority customers, as defined by each company, provided that such visits should only be done as a last resort after utilizing hotspots, self-install kits, and like measures to minimize in-home visits;
all door-to-door sales by third-party suppliers or other sales persons selling energy or energy related products are to be suspended immediately; and
all requirements to file paper documents with the Board or with Rate Counsel are waived and all submissions to the Board or Rate Counsel are to be submitted electronically.
Board of Public Utilities Public Outreach
On March 13, 2020, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities issued a press release announcing that “the state’s public electric and gas utilities have universally agreed to suspend service shutoffs given the statewide public health emergency and the effort currently underway in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.” Press release, “NJBPU Announces Utilities Have Voluntarily Suspended Service Shutoffs in Response to COVID-19,” March 13, 2020
The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities has posted a page on its web site with utility-related information on the Covid19 pandemic. It includes summaries and contacts to obtain information on State health resources, responding to a utility shutoff or other complaint, bill payment assistance, food assistance, the voluntary utility shutoff suspension, contacting Board Staff and cautioning about utility scams.
State Office of Administrative Law
The New Jersey Office of Administrative Law has posted a page on its web site with information on changes in its handling of administrative appeals due to the Covid19 pandemic. In-person hearings have been suspended and any essential conferences are to be held via telephone or on-line media such as Zoom