If you’ve fallen behind on your electric bills, contact your electric cooperative by April 1 to work out payment optionsWritten by Theresa Rose on March 30, 2015
Dated March 30, 2015
As the winter energy assistance disconnection moratorium ends on April 1, electric cooperative member-owners who are behind on their utility payments are urged to contact their co-op as soon as possible to work out payment options to avoid disconnection. Iowa’s not-for-profit electric cooperatives are willing to work with member-owners who have fallen behind on payments to find an agreeable solution; disconnection of service is always a last resort. Here are some services and programs designed to help those who are struggling to pay their electric bills:
Those who have fallen behind on their accounts may be eligible to enter into a reasonable payment agreement with their electric cooperative to pay accumulated debt over time and maintain electric service. If you are past-due on your account, contact your cooperative immediately to discuss payment plan terms.
For member-owners with tight budgets, seasonally high electric bills can cause financial strife. Iowa’s not-for-profit electric cooperatives offer “levelized billing” or “budget billing” payment options which ensure consistent electric bills month-to-month, making it easier to budget and anticipate. If your home utilizes electric heat and/or air-conditioning, this is a great way to avoid those larger seasonal bills that can fluctuate dramatically with changes in the weather. To enroll in this billing option, contact your co-op’s billing department or speak to a customer service representative.
State of Iowa Resources
We also encourage anyone who has fallen behind on payments to contact the Iowa Bureau of Energy Assistance at (515) 281-0859 regarding eligibility for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). LIHEAP is a federally funded program that provides a one-time per year payment to assist with household heating costs for eligible households. LIHEP funds are limited, but applications are still being accepted through April 30, 2015. A federally funded Home Weatherization Program is also available from the Iowa Bureau of Energy Assistance, which provides long-term financial relief by improving energy efficiency in homes and educating consumers about energy consumption.
Rural Electric Cooperative Care (RECare)
Member-owners of Iowa’s rural electric cooperatives (RECs) can voluntarily help other member-owners in financial need by contributing to the RECare program. RECare provides local community action agencies with funds to help low-income co-op families pay for winter heating bills and home weatherization. Contributors can opt to make a one-time contribution or a recurring pledge that will automatically be added to their monthly electric bill. To contribute to RECare, simply contact the member services department at your electric cooperative. In the fiscal year ending June 30, 2014, more than $67,000 was donated to the RECare program by cooperative member-owners in Iowa which provided financial assistance to 513 co-op households.