A utility that had vowed to stop customer shutoffs during the coronavirus crisis is still charging fees to some customers whose electricity was cut off before the crisis, HuffPost reports.
FirstEnergy, one of the nation’s largest-owned investor utilities, said it would not waive the fees, which average around $35 but can go up to $200. The fees are required to restore power to those of its 6 million customers who fell behind on bills before the virus struck, including customers currently under shelter-in-place orders in states like Ohio and New York.
Activists say hundreds of customers are currently in their homes in the dark in northeast Ohio.
“FirstEnergy did a great service by agreeing to stop shutoffs, but on the reconnection side, it’s still business as usual,” Jonathan Welle, executive director of anti-poverty nonprofit Cleveland Owns, told HuffPost. “They still require customers to call in, have access to a phone, have access to a number and information they need, and, as far as we know, they’re still asking folks to pay the reconnection fee.”