US Climate and Health Alliance

LIGHTS OUT IN THE COLD: Reforming Utility Shut-Off Policies as If Human Rights Matter


This report provides a comprehensive overview of common disconnection protections and policies employed by utilities nationwide, explores critical issues that should be considered in the development of disconnection policies, and calls for concrete action toward establishing policies that protect the well-being of all utility customers and the eventual ELIMINATION OF UTILITY DISCONNECTIONS. The need to incorporate human rights into the utility business model is a key component of the larger reform of the extractive energy economy and movement toward energy justice. The energy justice movement upholds that all individuals have the right to: safe, sustainable energy production; resilient and updated energy infrastructure; affordable energy; and uninterrupted energy service. This report discusses common disconnection protections across all types of utilities, but focuses on those set for Investor-Owned Utilities (IOU’s). Issues with existing disconnection practices and state level model policies are explored. Recommendations for the establishment of a right to utility service are put forward to ensure the future protection of utility customers.

Resource Type
Marcus Franklin Caroline Kurtz Mike Alksnis Lorah Steichen Chiquita Younger
Resource URL
March 2017
Health and Human Impacts
Dislocation/displacement/migration Heat illness/extreme temperature Overview/general
Built environment Climate adaptation/resilience
Climate and environmental justice/health equity Social determinants of health Vulnerable populations Policy United states

Resources main page