DES MOINES – The Iowa Utilities Board reminds Iowa customers that they could be subject to electric or natural gas service disconnection for unpaid bills, unless payment arrangements are made with their local utility. It is vital that customers who cannot pay their energy utility bills contact their local utility for help in avoiding potential service disconnection.
At the same time the Associated Press reported that Iowa Utilities Board figures show that as of February, more than 243,000 households were in arrears on utility payments. The amount of the debt has hit $46 million.
Customers certified for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), and associated Home Weatherization Program, are currently protected from energy service disconnection during Iowa’s annual winter disconnection moratorium, which runs from November 1 through April 1, and could be disconnected for non-payment beginning April 2.
A long winter with several extreme cold spells has resulted in higher heating costs and near- record levels of past due utility bill debt for residential customers in Iowa. Iowans unable to pay their utility bills will need to work very closely with their local utilities and Community Action Agencies (CAAs) to avoid service disconnections. LIHEAP funds are limited, but applications are still being accepted on a first come/first served basis by Iowa’s CAAs through April 30, 2014. All customers, including those not qualifying for LIHEAP or weatherization assistance, may be eligible to enter into a reasonable payment agreement with their utilities to pay accumulated debt over time and to maintain utility service.
Customers having difficulty paying their utility bills should first contact their local utility provider to discuss payment options. The Iowa Utilities Board Customer Service staff will assist customers with issues that are not resolved directly with their utility and can be contacted toll- free at 1.877.565.4450.