- Associated Press - Monday, March 17, 2014

BOSTON (AP) - Massachusetts Secretary William Galvin is urging public utilities to extend the financial hardship moratorium on shutting off gas and electricity until April 15.

Under state law, utilities are barred from turning off service to residential customers between Nov. 15 and March 15 for failure to pay because of financial hardship.

Galvin said the winter has been so harsh that many people have had to pay more for heat than they expected. He also noted significant increases in energy costs.

He pointed to a recent federal Energy Department report that found that those who heat with oil will pay 7 percent more than last winter while those who use natural gas will pay 10 percent more and those who use electricity will be 5 percent more.

Galvin said extending the moratorium will give customers breathing room.