Millions of Americans are unable to pay their energy bills and face the risk of being disconnected from their energy providers. This problem has grown significantly worse during the COVID-19 pandemic, with low-income households, households of color, and households with vulnerable populations particularly hard-hit by these conditions. In the early months of the pandemic, many states imposed temporary protections on utility disconnection but, as time has evolved, nearly all of these protections have lapsed. An increasing lack of protection has serious implications for vulnerable populations. Here, we present the extent of the energy insecurity problem in the United States, discuss the design and evolution of state disconnection protections, and offer policy recommendations for addressing this imminent challenge.

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