Commissioners call on the utility to think of families and unemployed workers
Last Thursday afternoon, The Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners (BCC) passed a resolution calling Florida Power and Light (FPL) to suspend any service disconnections until 60 days after the state of emergency in Miami ends, provide bill forgiveness for residents experiencing unemployment as a result of COVID-19 and eliminate late fees and back charges. The Commissioners voted unanimously in favor of the resolution.
This call to action comes in response to growing community concern and outreach to the Board. Advocates with the Miami Climate Alliance Clean Energy Working Group have been working with commissioners to connect with residents at risk of losing power, an effort that revealed shallow and limited relief options from FPL. Now, advocates are asking BCC to set up local relief funds to help pay bills.
Nearly 3 million Floridians have filed for unemployment and Florida’s COVID-19 cases continue to rise in record numbers. In this crisis, there is delayed and very little relief for families, especially in terms of being able to make monthly bill payments. More must be done to hold FPL accountable and prevent shut-offs.
In response to the Board’s vote, MacKenzie Marcelin, New Florida Majority’s Climate Justice Organizer, said:
“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Florida Power and Light has only given residents a one-time 25 percent decrease and offered inadequate relief programs. As we move into the fifth month of this pandemic, COVID-19 cases and energy bills continue to rise. Families and individuals in Miami-Dade are struggling and we need to push FPL to extend the shut-off moratorium, expand its relief program and provide more bill reductions as this crisis continues.”
Mayra Cruz, Miami Climate Alliance member and Climate Resilience Program Manager at Catalyst Miami, responded:
“As the pandemic and layoffs worsen, Miami has entered hurricane season and is experiencing hotter temperatures than normal. It is cruel and tone-deaf of FPL to plan shut-offs as many struggle to keep their air conditioning on at this time. We thank our officials for bringing important community concerns to FPL and invite impacted families to join the Miami Climate Alliance in advocating for immediate relief.”
County Commissioner, Daniella Levine Cava, said:
“As people struggle to survive in this health and economic crisis, electricity is a lifeline. We urge FPL to use this opportunity to lift up all its customers, to recognize that they can save lives and prevent catastrophe for so many.”