Disconnection notices will start going out to thousands of Iowa residents behind on their bills for electricity and natural gas as the winter moratorium on utility disconnections ends today.
Figures from the Iowa Utilities Board show as of February more than 179,000 accounts were past due, up from 165,000 last year. The Iowa Department of Human Rights Energy Assistance Program Manager, Christine Taylor, says that has led to more interest in the state assistance program.
“This year we have seen about a 21 percent increase in families coming to Community Action to apply for assistance,” Taylor says. The moratorium on disconnection begins in November and is designed to help the state’s most vulnerable households.
“Most of the time low income households do not live in energy-efficient homes. So what that means is their homes tend to be leakier and colder and so they have to use more natural gas or electric to heat their homes than some of the other households have to,” according to Taylor.
Taylor says anyone now facing disconnection should contact their utility and their Community Action agency for help.
(By Herb Trix, WVIK, Quad Cities)