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COVID-19 Information

July 29, 2020 Planning Meeting at 9:15 a.m. - Commission Docket No. 20-492. Discussion with utilities and stakeholders on what further actions could be taken. No decisions on specific projects will be made at the meeting. Please see the Public Utility Commission's (Commission) website and click on “Calendar” to open the agenda and viewing information.

Docket Next Step(s)
Consumer Protections for Natural Gas and Electric Service
E,G-999/CI-20-375 – In March 2020, a joint letter was sent to all electric and gas utilities operating in Minnesota. In the letter, state regulators set out a list of minimum voluntary actions requested from utilities for the duration of COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Extend protections of Minnesota’s Cold Weather Rule by restricting disconnection of residential customers for non-payment of utility bills and reconnecting customers who have been disconnected for the duration of the national security or state peacetime emergency. This request shall not affect the utility’s ability to disconnect a customer’s service for public safety concerns unrelated to non-payment of services.
  • Waive late fees that any residential or small business customer incurs because of the economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Arrange payment plans for customers requesting help during this time that is based on the financial resources and circumstances of the customer.
In June 2020, the Commission extended these protections, required that additional information be filed and that after the conclusion of the peacetime emergency, the utilities file a transition plan before resuming the previously mentioned activities.
Economic Recovery
E,G-999/CI-20-492 - The Commission’s investigation into rate regulated natural gas and electric utilities’ investments and projects that may assist in Minnesota’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Matters in docket 20-492 were discussed in a Planning Meeting on July 29, 2020. Next steps are expected to follow shortly. 
Financial Impacts to Utilities
E,G-999/CI-20-425 & E,G-999/M-20-427 The Commission’s investigation into the financial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on natural gas and electric utilities. On 7/20 utilities (individually and jointly) filed reply comments addressing issues related to the accounting for COVID-related costs. On 7/28 and 7/30 individual utilities made their first quarterly compliance filings informing the Commission on their tracked COVID-related deferred expenses and provided a summary of their accounts receivable aging. All of the figures were as of 6/30/2020.
Consumer Protections for Telecom Service
P-999/CI-20-374 – In March 2020, another joint letter was sent to all telephone service providers in Minnesota. In this letter, the Department of Commerce and the PUC set out a list of minimum voluntary actions requested for the duration of COVID-19 pandemic. The actions are consistent with the FCC’s “Keep America Connected Pledge” to:
  • Not terminate service to any residential or small business customers because of their inability to pay their bills due to the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Waive any late fees that any residential or small business customer incurs because of the economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Open its Wifi hotspots to any American who needs them.

The PUC-DOC letter also requested that telecom companies:

  • Ensure traffic flows smoothly across the network, regardless of increased demand.
  • Suspend data usage limits due to COVID-19.

The PUC has so far held six virtual check-ins with DOC, DEED, and telephone companies on the status of COVID-related issues. These check-ins are being held every other month.

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