CORRECTION: Glouster Utility Customers Make Payments – Avoid March 23 Shutoffs

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CORRECTION: This updated version corrects a report from Monday, March 23 that indicated a shut off had occurred.

The Village of Glouster stated the correct information is customers who faced shut offs paid their bills before Monday’s scheduled shut offs and no shut offs occured.

GLOUSTER, Ohio (WOUB) — All customers of Glouster Water and Electric facing shut offs on Monday, March 23 successfully paid their bills so service continued, according to village officials.

An earlier report from WOUB indicated one person had been cut off, but Glouster Village Fiscal Officer Jan Browning said all of the seven customers facing shutoffs had paid their bills by noon averting disconnection.

The payments came as a state order to stay at home during the coronavirus pandemic went into effect Monday at 11:59 p.m.

Browning said the overdue bills were from February, which includes the last two weeks of January and the first two weeks of February. Glouster combines its water and electric payments on one bill. Payment was due on March 10.

On March 12, three days after Governor Mike DeWine declared a state of emergency in Ohio, the Public Utilities Commission issued an order for utilities under its jurisdiction to stop disconnection for non-payment.

The commission also encouraged utilities not regulated by the PUCO to implement similar procedures.

Glouster uses its own utility department, buying water from Burr Oak Regional Water and electricity from AEP and American Municipal Power-Ohio, and therefore is not under PUCO’s jurisdiction.

A letter posted on the Village of Glouster Facebook page on March 20 announced disconnections would take place on Monday.

“These are the same households that play late every month,” the letter read.

“We (the Village of Glouster) are concerned that if we waive disconnect fees and these same people continue to not pay their bills we will not be able to pay our water and electric bills.”

At the state level, State Rep. David Leland (D-Columbus) introduced legislation Monday morning to prevent utility shutoffs to residences during the COVID-19 pandemic. The proposal brings in utility departments not under the PUCO’s jurisdiction.

“A lot of people are taking a big hit to their income,” said Leland. “As we all stay at home to fight this common enemy, we need to make sure Ohioans don’t have their lights turned off because they can’t make a payment.”

Glouster’s village council is set to meet April 6 and may take up the matter of whether to suspend cutoffs then but Browning said it was not clear whether the meeting will take place as the minimum number of those attending the meeting is normally more than the 10-person limit imposed by Gov. DeWine.