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Utility regulators in Pennsylvania leave moratorium on shutoffs in place

The four-member panel of two Democrats and two Republicans postponed a vote until Sept. 17

  • The Associated Press
A Duquesne Light bucket truck leaves the utility's Preble Service Center.

 Amy Sisk / StateImpact Pennsylvania

A Duquesne Light bucket truck leaves the utility's Preble Service Center.

(Harrisburg) — Pennsylvania state utility regulators have effectively extended a moratorium preventing utilities from terminating service to non-paying customers for three more weeks while the state fights the spread of the coronavirus.

The four-member panel of two Democrats and two Republicans postponed a vote on Thursday’s agenda until Sept. 17, after deadlocking twice on motions to lift the moratorium over the summer.

The utility commission slapped a moratorium on shutoffs in March as Gov. Tom Wolf was in the midst of a cascade of shutdown orders to help stop the spread of the virus.

In other coronavirus-related developments in Pennsylvania:

Pat Little / AP Photo

FILE: Bloomsburg University’s Carver Hall overlooks downtown Friday, April 18, 2003, in Bloomsburg, Pa. Town officials think they have solved problems at an off-campus apartment complex that had soured town-gown relations.

Higher ed instruction

Bloomsburg University is the latest Pennsylvania school to shift all instruction to remote learning starting Monday after it saw an outbreak of coronavirus cases.

“With care and concern for the safety and well-being of our students, faculty, and staff, their families, and our neighbors in the town of Bloomsburg, it is clear that we must make this transition and modify our on-campus operations to protect our community from the continued spread of the COVID-19 virus,” the university’s president, Bashar W. Hanna, said in a statement Thursday.

Bloomsburg, one of 14 state-owned schools, saw 90 new cases of the virus on campus. It has more than 8,500 students, with about 2,200 living on campus.

Students living on campus will not be required to leave residence halls, the state-owned school said, noting that a number of them come from areas without broadband access or may not have the support they need to complete the semester.

Students who return home will be reimbursed for their remaining room and board, the school said.

Several other state-owned universities and a number of private colleges and universities in Pennsylvania have shifted to remote or online instruction for the fall semester. Some, including the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University, initially tried to reopen with in-person instruction.

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