Important Reminder to Keep Paying on Utility Bills
Authored By: Iowa Legal Aid
Important Reminder to Keep Paying On Utility Bills
The winter moratorium on shutting off gas and electric utility service runs from November 1 through April 1. During this time, LIHEAP-eligible (“LIHEAP” stands for “Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program”) customers of gas and electric services have special protections. Gas and electric utilities cannot be shut off if someone who resides in the home applies and is eligible for energy assistance. It is still very important for customers to keeping paying on the utility bills. It can cost a lot to heat a house during the winter months. Paying nothing on these bills during the winter months can result in a big problem next spring. The amount due from unpaid bills can grow very fast.
If a customer pays nothing during the winter months, the utility company can, and probably will, send a notice in March threatening to shut off the utility after April 1. The notice will say that the utility service will be shut off if the back bill is not paid unless the customer enters into a payment agreement. The back bill from the winter months may be so high that the customer cannot pay it to prevent their utility services from being shut off. This is why it is very important to keep paying on your utility bills during the winter moratorium.
Also, the families of deployed military service members have special protection during their deployments. Regardless of the time of year, the gas and electric utility service of families of deployed service members cannot be shut off if the utility is notified of the deployment of one of the heads of the household. This protection continues for 90 days after the deployment ends.
While it is best to keep paying during the winter moratorium, or while a family member is deployed in the military, it is NOT a good time for LIHEAP-eligible customers or deployed service members’ families to enter into payment agreements with utilities on past-due bills. (You can enter into a payment agreement in April or when the deployment ends, if necessary, without risk of having broken a payment agreement in the meantime.)
If you run into problems with your utility service, you may wish to contact Iowa Legal Aid by calling 1-800-532-1275.
Last review 11/29/12