As you are aware, worldwide, communities are dealing with the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak, and we at the Energy Justice NC coalition are no different. Over the past week, many of our member organizations have transitioned to working from home, and like you we are adapting.
Like many other organizations we are social distancing until it becomes clear that gathering in public spaces no longer endangers public health. This includes stopping in-person meetings, especially those of more than 10 people so that we can help flatten the curve. Supporting our healthcare system and listening to their voices is also critical.
Though we’re taking steps to adapt to the changing world, our work does not stop. We’re thankful that in a time of economic uncertainty, large utilities such as Duke Energy and Dominion, as well as many municipalities and cooperatives, have suspended utility shutoffs. We encourage others across the state, and the country, to do the same. We also encourage utilities to:
- Return service to any delinquent account.
- Suspend the collection of late fees on accounts unable to keep up with payments,
- Make it clear that these policies extend for the duration of this economic crisis.
We have created a page where you can see whether your utility has a COVID-19 policy and contact them if you’d like to see their policy improved. Track your utility here: https://energyjusticenc.org/nc_disconnection/.
Additionally, we appreciate the North Carolina Utility Commission’s decision to suspend the Duke Energy Carolinas evidentiary hearing, previously scheduled for March 23.
Many of the communities who will be worst impacted by COVID-19 are the same communities who have historically borne the brunt of environmental devastation and our state’s outdated electric system. Rural communities, many of which are disproportionately low income, face inequitable access to healthcare, reside in food deserts, and face difficulties investing in clean, renewable energy. We stand in solidarity with these communities and will continue working to imagine and pursue an energy system that works for all North Carolina ratepayers and protects public health.
We understand times are uncertain, and we’re working to do what we can. We’re here if you need to reach out: firstname.lastname@example.org