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By Liz Kay, The Baltimore Sun

Utilities must now consider the three-day forecast before they shut off the power. I f the temperature is expected to exceed 95 degrees for 24 of the next 72 hours, then they can’t terminate.

Energy Advocates is a a statewide coalition of faith-and mission-based organizations that lobbies for policies to protect low- and moderate-income customers.

Utility service terminations are suspended for 55 days when people apply for federal energy assistance, but sometimes that processing can take even longer.  Also, the additional time can protect people if the weather gets severe over a holiday or a weekend, when staffing to restore service may be limited, she said.

The regulation also bars terminations when the temperature is forecast to fall below 32 degrees in a 72-hour period.

There are additional restrictions on shutoffs during winter months.  From Nov. 1 through March 31, BGE must make two attempts to contact customers and provide them energy assistance information, as well as provide an affidavit stating that terminations of service will not threaten the life of a customer, Foy said.

The spokeswoman said that BGE encourages anyone who is struggling to pay a utility bill to contact customer service before they receive a termination notice.

Customers may be able to work out a payment plan, depending on their payment history, their total balance and their ability to pay.

If customers can pay the outstanding balance by 3 p.m., their service can usually be restored that day — even on a Friday or Saturday, Foy said.

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