The annual winter moratorium on turning off utilities for people who are behind on their bills will end on Wednesday (April 1st). The moratorium is only for those who are a part of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
Iowa Utilities Board spokesman, Don Tormey, says the end of the moratorium doesn’t mean the utility companies are going to immediately start shutting off gas and electricity on April 2nd.
“Iowa law requires them to offer a customer at least a 12-month payment agreement to try to pay off past utility debt,” Tormey says. “Any customer who has been on the winter moratorium program and protected from disconnection all winter, has also been encouraged to pay on their bill during that time so they don’t come out of winter with a large utility debt.”
He says the utility company will notify customers who could face having their utilities cut off, most likely by a letter, and they have to send that notice out 12 days before a disconnection notice. “And if the customer does respond, the would still go out and post the property to let them know that a disconnection will be happening,” Tormey says.
Tormey says this winter was not as cold as last year, but there are still plenty of people who have struggled to pay their heating bills. “There was a total amount of 96,493 that were eligible accounts for energy assistance. And out of those 96,493, there were 36,368 with past-due accounts,” according to Tormey.
The LIHEAP program provides some assistance for low-income Iowans in helping pay their heating bills. Tormey says there are still some funds available for those who may’ve not signed up. “Customers who think they can qualify can contact their local community action agency to try to apply,” Tormey says.
You can find out more information about low-income energy assistance by visiting the Iowa Utility Board’s LIHEAP Informational Page.