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Wisconsin utilities will be able to shut off services for people behind on bills next month

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Posted at 9:37 PM, Mar 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-18 22:39:29-04

Utilities in Wisconsin will once again be able to shut off services for customers who fail to pay their bills.

The Public Service Commission voted unanimously Thursday to end the moratorium blocking utilities from disconnecting power, a policy put in place to help residents financially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The moratorium will expire on April 15, 2021.

The PSC argued in a statement Thursday that Wisconsin has emerged as a leader in vaccinating its population. The commission is also encouraging customers to arrange a payment plan with their utilities, among other options to help people pay utility bills.

The moratorium banning utilities from cutting power to those failing to pay bills went into effect almost one year ago, on March 24, 2020. While ordering utilities to maintain service, the PSC also agreed to provide financial support to utilities.

Throughout the summer and fall, the PSC met several times to review the moratorium, and Oct. 1, it voted 2-1 to extend the policy through April 15, 2021.

There are some options to help residents struggling to pay their utility bills:

  • You can contact your utility to set up a payment plan. Wisconsin law requires utilities to offer customers a Deferred Payment Agreement (DPA) who cannot pay an outstanding bill in full. If customers cannot reach a payment agreement with their utility, you can contact the PSC by calling 1-800-225-7729, or by filing a complaint on the PSC's website here.
  • You can contact the Department of Administration’s Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program for assistance. This program provides financial assistance for rent, utility, home energy costs, and wraparound services for people who qualify. To apply online go to their website here or to apply by phone call 1-800-506-5596.

The PSC expects additional utility bill assistance programs will become available in Wisconsin soon:

  • The 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act allowed Wisconsin access to more than $322 million in funding available for Wisconsin residents under the Wisconsin Emergency Rental Assistance Program.
  • The new 2021 American Rescue Plan Act may allocate Wisconsin more funding for the Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program.

The PSC is in charge of regulating energy, telecommunications, gas and water companies in Wisconsin.

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