Wisconsin PSC extends moratorium on disconnecting utilities to Nov. 1

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MADISON, Wis. (WKBT) — The Wisconsin Public Service Commission of Wisconsin voted 2-1 Thursday to extend the moratorium on utility residential customer disconnections and refusal of service for nonpayment until Nov. 1.
The action came as COVID-19 positive cases continued to spike in the state. Before the extension, regulated utilities were not allowed to disconnect service for non-payment until Oct. 1.
Despite the moratorium, however, commissioners urged customers to contact their utilities to set up payment plans or to seek energy assistance now, instead of waiting until the end of the moratorium.
“If you have been unable to pay your utility bills, contact your utility to arrange a payment plan or seek public assistance now, and while funding is available,” said PSC Chairwoman Rebecca Cameron Valcq.
“Even paying a little bit at a time or applying for energy assistance today can help head off an insurmountable debt at the end of the moratorium,” she said.
The PSC has been working with energy assistance program staff and utilities to ensure that energy assistance and crisis funding will be available.
Those efforts include obtaining an additional $8 million in Low Income Energy Assistance Program crisis funds available through the federal CARES Act to qualifying households to help manage heating season energy costs and, in the case of crisis funds, decrease customers’ arrears.
Customers who are having difficulty paying their energy bills may be eligible for assistance from the Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program. Online application is available on the Wisconsin government website, while places to apply in person or by phone go are available on the state’s Energy Plus site  or by calling (866) HEATWIS.
Customers who cannot reach an agreement with their utilities are urged to contact the PSC by calling (800) 225-7729, or by filing a complaint on the PSC website.
The PSC action occurred as the state approaches its annual moratorium on cold weather disconnections for utility service used for home heating. The moratorium is set to begin on Nov. 1 and run to April 15.
Water, electric and gas utilities that want to disconnect during the winter moratorium will have to file a disconnection plan with the PSC and receive approval before they can proceed.
The PSC is continuing to monitor utilities’ disconnection plans, payment plan terms and customer notices to ensure they conform to existing orders, administrative codes and state law.