New Jersey Governor Signs AARP-Backed Bill to Avoid Utility Shutoffs

Men up pole working on power lines
Peter Cade/Getty Images

A new state law backed by AARP will give New Jerseyans who apply for state utility assistance 60 days before their electricity, water and other utilities can be shut off — potentially helping the roughly 1 million state residents who are behind on their utility payments.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused extreme financial stress for many New Jersey residents, particularly older residents living on low, moderate and fixed incomes,” Evelyn Liebman, AARP New Jersey’s state advocacy director, said in a statement. “This new legislation will provide protection from having service disconnected for the thousands of consumers who are in the process of applying for assistance.”

AARP has been calling for such assistance in New Jersey, New York and other states. New Jersey’s Board of Public Utilities estimates that more than 850,000 gas and electric customers are behind on their payments by more than $660 million. Those totals don’t include the 157,000 residential water accounts that collectively owe more than $50 million.

New Jersey had previously had a utility shut off moratorium in place, but it expired on March 15, 2022. The new law also requires utility companies to offer payment plans for residents who aren’t eligible for assistance from the state or whose state aid doesn’t fully cover what they owe.

Read our statement about the new law, and see what utility assistance programs may be available to you.

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