What to do if you're behind on your heating bills - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

What to do if you're behind on your heating bills

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WAUSAU (WAOW) - A Wausau woman knows the past winter has been a record-setter for cold. Her heating bills tell her that.

"Really expensive, like 200 hundred a month," said Karyn Allord of Wausau. "Very hard to keep up. Got behind a couple of times, but we're catching up."

According to Wisconsin Public Service officials, at the end of February, nearly 26,000 customers were four months or more behind on their utility bills. The utility says that's more than a year ago.

Michael Brown of Tomahawk said he has kept up with his bills but has written bigger checks to do it.

"My bill was probably 20 percent higher than last year," he said.

WPS spokeswoman Kelly Zagrzebski says this year, not only are more customers struggling, but their bills are higher as well.

"The big issue there comes with the long periods of cold weather," said Zagrzebski. "I've seen anywhere from 24 to 42 percent higher, depending on the bill period for that area."

Starting April 16, utility providers will be able to disconnect customers from service.

WPS officials say that those who are in need of help paying their bills should contact their provider sooner rather than later. WPS encourages those who struggle with high heating bills to enroll in the budget billing program.

"We're really encouraging customers to contact us and make arrangements or make their payments," said Zagrzebski.

Last year, WPS disconnected about 15,000 customers, the company said.

"We're anticipating disconnecting about 15,000 to 20,000 [this year], depending on if people come in and make their arrangements," said Zagrzebski.

WPS customers say they can't wait for winter to be over as some more snow fell Thursday.

"Very relieved spring is on the way," said Allord. "That's going to be a nice change."

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