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Friday, October 9, 2009

Seek heating assistance before cold sets in

From a news release issued by the Public Service Commission:

Heating moratorium begins November 1st

MADISON – The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) urges energy consumers to contact their local utility if their heat is currently disconnected. The PSC also encourages residents to take advantage of energy-efficiency programs and the state’s low-income bill payment assistance programs to reduce the burden of utility bills this winter.

Wisconsin law states that consumers cannot be disconnected during the heating moratorium period from November 1 to April 15, if they are connected at the start of the moratorium. Consumers who are currently disconnected must make arrangements with their local utility to pay outstanding bills in order to have service restored. If a consumer has not made arrangements to pay an outstanding bill, the utility is not required to reconnect the service until payment arrangements have been made.

Consumers who need to set up a payment agreement should call their local utility. Phone numbers for the largest utilities in Wisconsin are listed below. If consumers cannot reach an agreement with their utility, they may contact the PSC at 608-266-2001 or 1-800-225-7729.

Alliant Energy, 1-800-862-6222
Madison Gas & Electric, 608-252-7144
Superior Water, Light & Power, 715-394-2200
We Energies, 1-800-842-4565
Wisconsin Public Service Corp., 1-800-450-7260
Xcel Energy, 1-800-895-4999

Energy Assistance
Due to increased federal funding and recent changes in program eligibility, many more households across the state may be eligible for heating assistance this winter. Consumers may qualify for assistance in paying their heating bills through the Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program (WHEAP), which provides financial assistance to low-income residents. WHEAP is part of the state’s comprehensive Home Energy Plus program which provides assistance with emergency energy needs, emergency furnace repairs, conservation service, and weatherizing for low-income households.

For the 2009-2010 heating season, the income eligibility limit for WHEAP and Weatherization has increased from 150% of the federal poverty level to 60% of the State’s Median Income. The state anticipates nearly 256,000 Wisconsin families will receive energy assistance to pay a portion of their fuel costs this heating season, a 40 percent increase over last year.

Payments under these programs are based on household size, income level, and home energy costs. A family of four, with an annual income of $45,067 or less may be eligible for energy assistance. For more information about applying for the Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program, call the Home Energy Plus hotline at 866-432-8947, or visit www.homeenergyplus.wi.gov.

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