Over 1,200 households left without electricity during Philly’s dangerous heat wave

When the city declares a heat health emergency, new utility shut-offs are banned. But service is not automatically restored for accounts already shut off.

AC units for sale on the back of a pick-up truck

AC units for sale on the back of a pick-up truck during a heatwave in Philadelphia on July 20, 2022. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

More than a thousand Philadelphia residents could be without electricity to power air conditioners and fans during a dangerously hot weekend — despite the pause on utility shutoffs.

During a heat health emergency, like the one the city of Philadelphia declared this week, PECO can’t disconnect residents’ electricity service. But the utility does not automatically restore service to people whose electricity was already shut off when the emergency began.

A total of 1,290 PECO customers’ accounts were shut off for nonpayment as of Friday morning, according to PECO spokesperson Tom Brubaker.

“Disconnecting service is always a last resort, that’s why it’s important that customers take action and contact PECO to set up payment arrangement plans and take advantage of customer assistance programs,” Brubaker said in an emailed statement.

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To get your electricity restored, contact PECO to make arrangements that can include submission of medical certification, payment arrangements, and financial assistance.

The Energy Coordinating Agency recommends reaching out to your Neighborhood Energy Center — where staff can connect you with resources.

The city Water Department has also delayed shut-offs during the heat health emergency, although they were scheduled to resume July 20 after a two-year moratorium due to the pandemic.

This week’s heat health emergency runs at least through Sunday, July 24. Utility shut-offs will resume after the emergency declaration is lifted.

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