Secretary of State William F. Galvin: Extend the utility shut-off date this winter

William F. Galvin. File photo. Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff.
William F. Galvin. File photo. Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff.

Massachusetts Secretary of State William F. Galvin said Monday that he will urged the Commonwealth’s public utilities to extend to April 15 the financial hardship moratorium on shutting off gas and electric home heating service.

A front page story in Monday’s Globe notes that the long, cold winter is forcing many local households to spend an estimated 20 percent more for heat than they did last year.

Under Massachusetts law, utilities are prohibited from cutting service to residential customers experiencing financial hardship between Nov. 15 and March 15 — though the end date often is extended to at least the end of March.

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A former member of the Legislature, Galvin was a cosponsor of that law.

In a Monday press release, Galvin called on the state’s Department of Public Utilities to “extend utility shut-off protection.”

“This winter has been harsh and slow to depart,” Galvin said in a statement. “People are having to pay more to heat their houses and apartments than they expected, or probably budgeted for. Extending the moratorium, as was done in two of the past three winters, will give customers some breathing room to cope with those higher prices.”