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Advocates Hammer Council On Heat Shut-Offs

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By Peter Granitz

Advocates are pushing the D.C. Council to stop Pepco from turning off customers heat if they can't pay their bills.

Washington Gas and Pepco can shut off someone's power if it's thirty-two-degrees or warmer. To some, that's just not okay because it may be above freezing one day and down into the single digits the next.

Crystal Kim directs Justice First, the advocacy group pushing the council to prevent shut offs during the coldest months of the year.

"The only person who can enact such legislation or even introduce it is a DC Council Member or Public Service Commission member. The fact that rates have doubled in the last four years right under their noses, shows: Are they on the side of the residents?" says Kim.

Outside a jam-packed public services committee meeting Herbert Harris worries the council will take too long to decide on the moratorium. After all, he says the Consumer Utility Board that he chairs has pushed for things like this before.

"I'm uncertain whether or not the city Council will be willing to move emergency legislation, or whether they'd punt it back to the state utility commission," says Harris.

Pepco's regional president says shut-offs are a last resort, and the utility is considering how a moratorium would affect revenue.

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