Southern Company, a major utility, announced temporary relief for customers who are not able to pay their bills due to the widespread coronavirus outbreak, by suspending service disconnections for nonpayment for seven days. While I applaud the decision of both Atlanta Gas Light and Georgia Power, who are both owned by Southern Company and regulated by Georgia’s Public Service Commission—to not terminate services for customers due to nonpayment amid COVID-19 concerns, the harsh reality is the financial hardship for Georgia customers impacted by employment changes or business slowdown is unprecedented and can extend far beyond one week or even month. As our government requires each of us to limit public interaction and work from home when we can, we must also consider the millions of working families whose livelihood is dependent on going into the workplace and social interactions.
Suspensions should be suspended through the end of the crisis period and in accordance with Governor Brian Kemp’s declaration of Georgia’s public health emergency. Suspending service disconnections for nonpayment until the end of the crisis period is not only the right business decision, it is in the best interest of working families severely and irreparably impacted as the state scrambles to contain the coronavirus pandemic.
Daniel Blackman is a respected community leader, impact investor, and policy advisor committed to fighting for environmental justice, public health, and political empowerment to uplift America’s most vulnerable communities. He is a candidate to serve on Georgia’s Public Service Commission District 4.
“Working Families should not have to choose between keeping the lights on or putting food on the table; and Senior Citizens on fixed incomes should never have to choose between paying for their medications or their home energy bill. The People of Georgia deserve a fearless and consistent voice on their Public Service Commission. I would be honored to be that voice, and even more honored to earn your support.” —Daniel Blackman, Candidate, Georgia’s Public Service Commission District 4.