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SFPUC Committed to Reducing Utility Customer Debt, Avoiding Shutoffs During and Beyond Pandemic
Agency collaborated with SPUR on new report addressing rising water-bill debt during COVID-19
Posted Date: 1/14/2021 2:00 PM
San Francisco, CA – The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) is committed to reducing debt for utility customers and avoiding service shutoffs during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. The topic is addressed in a new SPUR report on Bay Area water utilities and rising water-bill debt that customers are experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

“The global pandemic exposed longstanding concerns related to the affordability of utility bills for customers in need,” said Acting SFPUC General Manager Michael Carlin. “Families should not have to choose between putting food on their table or paying their water bill, but the coronavirus pandemic has forced many households to confront that terrible decision.”

With support from Mayor London N. Breed, the SFPUC has implemented many of the recommendations raised in the SPUR report, including moratoriums on utility shutoffs, bill relief programs for eligible customers, and increased access to our financial assistance programs. However, as the SPUR report also indicates, these programs need ongoing, permanent sources of funding to become financially sustainable.

“We are strongly committed to avoiding mass shutoffs for our customers once our moratorium on utility shutoffs is lifted,” said Carlin. “We want to find a solution that supports our most vulnerable customers and maintains our financial stability.” 

Utilities across the country are facing a similar situation. That is why the SFPUC is teaming up with other utilities and industry associations to advocate at the federal level for long-term funding solutions to the affordability issues facing our customers. Those advocacy efforts include securing federal funding for permanent subsidies for water utilities for low-income customers and increasing federal investment in water utility infrastructure. The SFPUC is also engaging with regional and state utilities to pilot alternative payment options.

As always, payment and customer assistance programs are available for customers who need more flexibility paying their utility bills. Customers can learn more about available bill relief programs at sfwater.org/billrelief.

About the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) is a department of the City and County of San Francisco. It delivers drinking water to 2.7 million people in the San Francisco Bay Area, collects and treats wastewater for the City and County of San Francisco, and generates clean power for municipal buildings, residential customers, and businesses. Our mission is to provide our customers with high quality, efficient and reliable water, power, and sewer services in a manner that values environmental and community interests and sustains the resources entrusted to our care. Learn more at www.sfwater.org. 


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