As of April 15 utilities in Wisconsin will be allowed to disconnect service to customers who have not been able to pay their bills. For more than a year the state had a moratorium on utility disconnections due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, but last week The Public Service Commission voted to end it.

The Public Service Commission reported that statewide " as many as 93,263 residential and 4,180 non-residential customers were at risk of disconnection. The utilities reported that the amount owed as of Dec. 31 was $309 million, about 58% more than it was the previous year."

Locally about 1,000 Superior Light and Power customers are at risk of disconnection and about 20 businesses. Superior Water Light and Power President Rob Sandstrom said to Superior Telegram:

That number is not uncommon, but what is different this year is the amount of long-term debt that has piled up. The utility company tracks customers whose debt is past due by 30, 60 and 90 days. We’ve seen a much larger balance in that 90-day-plus bucket,  about double what it was last year at this time.

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So many people locally and around the country are struggling to make ends meet with the pandemic still raging throughout the country and the world. For people who are fortunate enough to still be employed many have had their hours cut or were unemployed and trying to play catch up. We see record numbers of people flocking to food drives just to provide for their families.

But the important thing is that help is out there. Nobody wants to have their utilities shut off any time of the year, but with everything else that people are dealing with this can hopefully be prevented. If you are having trouble paying your bills you may be eligible for assistance. you can apply at energybenefit.wi.gov or call 800-506-5596. For those who fill out the energy assistance form you may also qualify for COVID-19 relief funds. In Douglas County please contact Northwest Wisconsin Community Services Agency.

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