Whip City Fiber shutoffs to begin next week
WESTFIELD- Westfield Gas & Electric has begun terminating power to homes of people who have not reached out to the municipal utility company regarding their past-due bills, mostly blamed on the COVID-19 pandemic.
WG&E General Manager Thomas P. Flaherty said during the June 2 Municipal Light Board meeting that between 50 and 100 terminations are taking place daily since shutoffs began last week.
Because of the severe economic impact of the pandemic to individuals, a moratorium had been established on power shutoffs in Massachusetts so that thousands of people did not suddenly go without power during the pandemic.
That moratorium was lifted March 15, and WG&E has since been slowly working to inform the roughly 2,000 residents with late bills that they must come up with a plan to begin paying. Flaherty has said on multiple occasions that people with late WG&E bills can get on some sort of payment plan to spread out the damage. Now that the shutoffs have begun, Flaherty said that the WG&E customer service department has been working nearly non-stop taking calls from customers. Just this week, customer service has taken nearly 500 calls.
“Our offices are open Monday-Thursday to 7 p.m. and Friday until 5 p.m.,” said Flaherty, urging people with late bills to reach out to come up with a plan.
Flaherty said that some of the bills have been paid by Wayfinders, an organization that helps to fight and prevent homelessness.
“They have been paying a significant amount of the balances that are due. They are close to $50,000 that they have paid so far on behalf of our ratepayers,” said Flaherty.
In addition to power shutoffs, Whip City Fiber internet shutoffs are slated to begin next week for people who are late on that bill. Flaherty said that between 350 and 400 customers are expected to be impacted. Those people are also encouraged to reach out to the Whip City Fiber offices to come up with a payment plan and avoid shutoffs.