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Behind on utility bills due to coronavirus? Contact provider to ensure service continues

April 13, 2020

Twin Cities Pioneer Press

Dane Mizutani

While most electricity and gas providers are extending additional protections during the COVID-19 crisis, Minnesotans that are behind on utility bills are still being encouraged to contact their provider to ensure service continues.

This advice comes the Citizens Utility Board (CUB), a nonprofit advocate for utility consumers.

Some providers that have suspended disconnections for non-payment include Xcel, Minnesota Power, CenterPoint, and Otter Tail Power Company. Most other providers are offering to extend additional flexibility, including payment arrangements to customers who contact them.

“It’s essential that people’s utilities remain on during the pandemic,” CUB executive director Annie Levenson-Falk said in a prepared statement. “For people to comply with the Stay At Home order, every home needs electricity, heat, and hot water.”

For consumers who are behind on their utility bills, worried about their service being disconnected, or have already had their service disconnected, CUB recommends:

  • Call your utility and ask to arrange a payment plan that works given your personal financial circumstances. Ask them to ensure your service remains on and to waive late fees during the federal or state declared COVID-19 emergency.
  • If you have been financially affected by the COVID-19 emergency, make sure to tell them. Some utilities are making special arrangements for people who have been affected that may not be available to people undergoing financial hardships for other reasons.
  • Make at least partial payments on your bills as you are able. Even if your service will not be disconnected during this period, your bills will continue to accumulate. Any payments you can make now will reduce the amount you owe when the emergency order is eventually lifted and utilities begin disconnection proceedings again.
Author: Hannah Hoeger

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