State regulators have launched an “emergency investigation” to find outjust how many Iowans may be subject to a utility cut-off on April 1st. Utilities cannot disconnect the heat and power from Iowans who haven’tpaid their bills during the winter months, but that moratorium expires innine days. Iowa Utilities Board spokesman Rob Hillesland says the boardwants to make sure low-income Iowans have some alternative payment options.Hillesland says there’s concern since as many as 60-thousand Iowans will havetheir heat and power shut-off April 1st because they haven’t been able toafford their hefty natural gas bills. Hillesland says the Utilities Board isopen to changing “budget billing” rules or any other regulations that mighthelp extend the period when Iowans can pay their over-due power bills. TheBoard’s scheduled a Wednesday, March 28th meeting with natural gas companyofficials to review the situation.
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