Winter moratorium ends, customers need to catch up on electric b - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Winter moratorium ends, customers need to catch up on electric bills

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MADISON (WKOW)-- A moratorium prohibiting power companies from disconnection service during the cold months is over and now customers need to pay past due amounts or risk losing service.

Karla Vale lost her job in September but still had severance pay coming in so she didn’t’ think paying her bills would be a problem. Then, an extremely cold winter caused her electric bills to increase by about 50 dollars each month.

“I know that I tried to pay everything in full and then it got to be that I could only make partial payments and then it just, the last bill we had due, the total amount was like $500,” Karla said.

Karla isn’t the only one who struggled to keep up this winter.

Typically we have a higher call volume at the end of the moratorium,” said Anne Marie Newman, spokeswoman for Alliant Energy. “Obviously we had a very cold winter so we do have more customers that were a little bit behind on their heating bills, bills were a little bit higher this year.”

Karla, an Alliant Energy Customer, thought her partial payments would prevent a disconnection. However when she missed the due date on a minimum payment, her power was cut for about half an hour until she paid $211 plus a $30 reconnection fee.

“I told them I'd been unemployed since September and she said oh you should have called us, but I said I didn't feel I'd need to because I still have money coming in through a severance pay and she said oh you still should have called us,” Karla said.

Alliant says disconnection is a last resort and customers should keep them informed of changing financial situations.

“Certainly the sooner a customer can call us, the better we can do to help them make an arrangement on their bill,” Newman said.

Newman says though more people may be behind this year, the number of disconnections is down from previous years because customers are working with the company and setting up budget plans.

That’s what Karla is now doing. The plan means her monthly payment will be the same regardless of energy use.

“So there's no surprise, that's the amount I have to pay every month,” Karla said. “I wish it was less but like she said, once the past due amount gets paid off, that can be decreased.”

Karla says she’ll stay on the budget plan until her financial situation stabilizes.

If you are struggling with your electric bills or have an income change that may impact your ability to pay, Alliant offers:

Deferred payment arrangements, where we will spread their arrears out over a certain number of months to help them catch up

Budget Billing, which evens out the bill amount by billing the 12 month average; this helps avoiding seasonal spikes. The set budget amount adjusts every 6 months to reflect actual usage.

Referral for Energy Assistance for those income eligible.

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