MADISON, Wis. (WFRV) – The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) voted unanimously to allow utilities to move forward with disconnection of service for nonpayment at the end of the annual winter moratorium after April 15.
According to a release, the action comes following a moratorium preventing utilities from disconnecting service for nonpayment during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Customers who are behind on paying their utility bills are encouraged to arrange a payment plan with their utility providers and seek bill payment assistance before the moratorium ends.
On March 24, 2020, the PSC says they met and ordered utilities to maintain service to customers during the pandemic. At that same time, they provided financial support for utilities to ensure they could remain financially healthy to enable the continued delivery of safe and reliable gas, electric, and water service.
Throughout the summer and early fall, the PSC says they came together several times to review the status of the pandemic and its March 2020 decisions. In October on a 2-1 vote, the PSC decided to extend the disconnection moratorium for residential utility customers through the end of the annual winter moratorium, which runs from Nov. 1 through April 15.
To avoid disconnection, customers who have fallen behind on payments are encouraged first to contact their utility to set up a payment plan. If customers are having difficulty paying their energy bills, PSC says they may be eligible for assistance from the Department of Administration’s Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program (WHEAP).
In addition to the funding annually available through WHEAP, several additional utility bill assistance programs are expected to become available to Wisconsinites in the near term.
As part of federal stimulus funding from the 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act, Governor Evers announced more than $322 million in funding available for Wisconsinites under the Wisconsin Emergency Rental Assistance Program, administered by the Department of Administration.
Officials say this program provides direct financial assistance for rent, utility, home energy costs, and wraparound services for individuals who qualify. The same stimulus package included $638 million nationwide for additional dedicated water bill assistance, and a portion of that is anticipated to be made available to Wisconsin as well.
Under the new 2021 American Rescue Plan Act, PSC says Wisconsin is also anticipated to receive an additional infusion of Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds to its WHEAP program, along with additional emergency rental, utility bills, water bill, and homeowner assistance.
PSC says utilities are required to offer a Deferred Payment Agreement (DPA) to residential customers who cannot pay an outstanding bill in full.
If you cannot reach a payment agreement with your utility, you are asked to contact the PSC by calling 1-800-225-7729, or by filing a complaint on the PSC website.