The deadline’s upon you for paying past-due power bills. Jerry McKim’s Chief of Iowa’s Bureau of Energy Assistance Bureau says the first of the month means the end for clients who signed up for low-income energy assistance hoping to avoid shutoff. As of April 1 the moratorium ends, so people will be facing disconnection and the only way to avert that is set up some kind of payment plan with their local power company. McKim says the number of people in LIHEAP, the low-income heating energy assistance program, is approaching the all-time record marked in the winter of 2001. As of February there 23,688 LIHEAP recipients who were behind on bills totaling more than 7-point-six-Million dollars, highest in the last half-dozen years, disconcerting since the numbers always rise more in March. More bad news — McKim says analysts all predict high heating prices for the next few years. The best-case scenario is record numbers of households entering into payment plans with their utilities, but they’re likely to still be carrying significant debt when they head into the next heating season. McKim says it’s worth signing up for the LIHEAP program, even though it offers only a once-a-year payment for part of a power bill. There may be people who are eligible and haven’t applied, and they can still do that through April 15 — though it won’t protect you from disconnection but it’ll get you a little extra money to put toward your past-due amount.
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