DSA Organizes to Protect Neighbors in Need from Power Disconnections

Montgomery County DSA Says: “The People, United, Will Fight to Keep the Lights On”
(SILVER SPRING, MD) — Montgomery County DSA’s Power for the People campaign is providing direct aid to neighbors who are unable to pay their energy bills. The campaign has donated $3,000 so far, protecting nine low-income households from gas and electricity disconnections, and is continuing to raise funds through an Action Network campaign.

Maryland’s statewide ban on power disconnections expires on November 15. Governor Hogan stopped extending the moratorium at the request of Pepco and other utility companies, and he has no plans to offer real relief to struggling families. Montgomery County DSA stands in solidarity with our neighbors who will lose access to gas and electricity in the coming weeks.

While Pepco’s parent company, Exelon, continues to pay quarterly dividends to shareholders, the coronavirus pandemic has emptied families’ pocketbooks. In June, 150,000 Pepco customers in Maryland’s DC suburbs were more than 60 days behind on their energy bills. Meanwhile, the hurdles to existing assistance programs are even higher than before. In-person appointments are scarce. Signup events have been canceled. Additionally, Maryland’s undocumented residents are not eligible for government-run energy assistance programs.

Power for the People fills these gaps by providing a simple request form in English, Spanish, and Amharic that does not ask for proof of income. 100% of donations raised through the Action Network campaign are credited to recipients’ Pepco balances. One of the campaign’s first recipients, Kathy M., had this to say: “Your donation helps me in ways that you can’t imagine. In what seems a lifetime ago, I joyfully gave of myself in service to others. However, life circumstances can change your existence in a nanosecond. Your gift has given me hope that there will be a better day.”

The campaign has set a goal of raising $5,000 in additional funds to meet all the requests that have come in. Power for the People co-organizer Sarah Brand said, “In an economic crisis, mutual aid is more important than ever. Our neighbors need to stay warm this winter, and students need reliable power to attend classes. I encourage anyone who can help to pitch in.”