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What if I can’t pay my water, gas, electricity, phone, or Internet bill due to the outbreak? Is the State doing anything to prevent utility shutoffs?

Last Updated: 06/22/2022

The utility shutoff grace period ended on March 15, 2022 for all water, electric, and sewer customers.

Local authorities, municipal or public utilities, and rural electric cooperatives must continue providing electric, gas, sewer, or water service to residential customers who applied for utility assistance before June 15, 2022, but have not yet received a decision on their application.

With expanded income eligibility for some programs, more New Jerseyans are now eligible for utility assistance. Learn more below.

Residential customers will be protected for 60 days after starting a utility assistance application, and if they complete their application in this time, will be protected until a decision is made on the application. The Department of Community Affairs (DCA), Department of Human Services (DHS), Board of Public Utilities (BPU) or any other State agency administering a utility assistance program will notify utility service providers of the customers who have applied for an assistance program and are eligible for this grace period while awaiting their application determination.

Liens also cannot be placed, sold or enforced on the property of a residential customer for unpaid utility bills while State agencies determine the customer's application for assistance. Customers will also be eligible for a 12-month interest-free deferred payment plan if they are denied assistance or if the assistance does not cover the full amount of their unpaid bills.

The annual Winter Termination program was in effect and prevented electric or gas shutoffs for certain households, including some seniors and low-income families, through March 15, 2022.

Internet

The grace period preventing shutoffs of residential cable and internet for customers with school-aged children ended on December 31, 2021.

Residential cable and internet customers with school-aged children had until December 31, 2021 to apply for assistance, sign up for deferred payment agreements with their provider, and address any unpaid balances in order to avoid disconnection.

After that date, you may be at risk of disconnection if you are unable to pay your bill.

Utility Assistance

If you need help paying your utility bills or your arrears, contact your utility company about assistance programs and payment plans, or visit BPU's "Assistance Programs" page for information about programs that can help.

For additional help, the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) has a variety of programs that can help with energy bills, water and sewer bills, rent costs, eviction prevention, and more. For more information about which programs you may be eligible for, use DCA's screening tool.

Note: For any questions about your service, first contact your utility company. A list of public gas and electricity utility company phone numbers is available here.

If you are unable to resolve an issue with your utility company, you should contact BPU's Customer Assistance team by filling out this online form, or by calling (800) 624-0241 and leaving a voicemail.

Source: Executive Order No. 229; Executive Order No. 246; https://nj.gov/governor/news/news/562021/approved/20211222a.shtml; https://www.nj.gov/bpu/newsroom/reports/covid19/Moratorium_Ending_FAQs_061421.pdf