Residents urged to contact Governor in support of moratorium
Statewide clean energy and social justice organizations are united in asking Governor Ron DeSantis to order all energy utilities in Florida to immediately suspend power disconnections for non-payment, reconnect households that were disconnected before the state of emergency was declared on March 9, and waive associated late fees and other fines for residential customers.
This new Connected in Crisis coalition has debuted a website for residents and public officials to learn more about how each utility in Florida is handling power disconnections during the COVID-19 pandemic. The website can be accessed here: https://connectedincrisis.org.
In addition to the informational website, the groups have set up an online portal for Florida residents to easily contact Governor DeSantis about issuing a statewide moratorium on power disconnections. The action portal can be accessed here: https://p2a.co/oxM411w.
Partners include Catalyst Miami, The CLEO Institute, Earthjustice, Florida Conservation Voters, Food and Water Watch, The New Florida Majority, ReThink Energy Florida, Solar United Neighbors of Florida, and Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.
“No family should have to choose between essential life-sustaining services during a national time of crisis,” says Aliki Moncrief, executive director of Florida Conservation Voters. “The governor can show bold leadership now by keeping the lights on for all Florida families. So far, our collective members have sent more than 1,300 emails to the Governor, urging him to issue a moratorium on utility shut offs. Floridians are suffering and need relief now.”
“We know that access to electricity and adequate air conditioning can mean life or death for our most vulnerable populations in Florida,” said Zelalem Adefris, Vice President of Policy and Advocacy for Catalyst Miami. “On top of that, given our humid climate, a lack of air conditioning rapidly induces mold growth and indoor heat exposure, aggravating existing respiratory diseases and leading to more severe COVID-19 symptoms. The coronavirus crisis highlights the known fact that almost 60% of our Miami-Dade County residents do not have enough savings to stay above the poverty line for more than 3 months after experiencing an emergency. Our government needs to ensure the utmost assistance to Floridians now and begin investing heavily in the clean, equitable, affordable, renewable energy future we all deserve.”
“We hope that the governor will look out for Florida families who are struggling during this difficult time. Gov. DeSantis has the power to take at least one thing off their plate for now – their electricity bill,” said Earthjustice attorney Bradley Marshall.
“Floridians need stability and security during this unprecedented time,” said Heaven Campbell, Associate Program Director of Solar United Neighbors of Florida. “We encourage Governor DeSantis to issue a moratorium on shut-offs, while committing to increased resiliency and clean energy moving forward.”
“In times of upheaval, we must address the crisis before us, so let’s make sure all Floridians keep their power on.” said Susan Glickman, Florida Director of Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. “But we must also tackle the root causes of why some are disproportionately paying the highest electric bills.”
“The pandemic is a crisis that impacts our most vulnerable communities first and most,” said Kim Ross, Executive Director of ReThink Energy Florida. “They were on the brink of crisis before the pandemic, in part due to high electric bills; and they were the first to feel the crisis as it rolled into Florida. They will likely be the last to recover. Yet, they are often on the front-line as nurses, grocery workers, sanitary workers and more. It’s time to honor them as humans and honor their work in this crisis, and issue a moratorium on disconnects.”
“Despite Florida’s strong economy, our residents face some of the highest economic inequality around the country. Research has shown that over 57% of Floridians are unable to cover a $1,000 emergency, ranking us last in the nation for emergency savings,” says Salome Garcia of The CLEO Institute. “This ranking means that as coronavirus increases unemployment and financial uncertainty, nearly six out of 10 community members may not be able to pay for food, critical health care services, child care, emergency housing, or home repairs without going into debt or falling deeper into poverty.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic is both a public health and economic crisis. The hardest hit by this crisis are the communities we serve including low-income households, communities of color, individuals with disabilities, LGBTQ communities and the working poor. Florida has the lowest unemployment benefits in the nation. We must protect our communities and Florida’s families are counting on the Governor to do the right thing as we all work to overcome this crisis by including marginalized communities in preparation and recovery efforts during this COVID-19 crisis and future ones,” says Joanne Pérodin, Climate Justice Program Manager with The New Florida Majority.
The Connected in Crisis campaign is a collaboration among a growing number of organizations united in the belief that no family should have their utilities disconnected due to the COVID-19 pandemic.