Utility Shutoff Season

Many of us are glad to see the return of spring.

But that may not apply to you if you’re struggling with electric, water or heating bills.

With the bitter cold gone, utilites are more likely to shut off your service if you owe.

Michigan law gives utilities the right to disconnect service in the wintertime.

Some providers actually perform winter disconnects, but others, like UPPCO, choose not to.

UPPCO customer care manger Jodi Pineau says they as a company understand how vital it is for an area as cold as the U.P. is to have heat and electricity still connected in winter even if customers are behind.

But if you’re behind, she strongly suggests being proactive and contacting your provider about making some sort of payment arrangement to help you catch up.

All utility companies make them with customers, including UPPCO.

UPPCO has about 50,000 customers in the U.P.

Nearly 3,000 are far enough behind on their bills to risk disconnection — slightly more people than last spring.

There are quite a few service organizations that may be able to help you out with utility bills.

Pineau says for customers who qualify financially, the Michigan Department of Human Services is often the first place they suggest people go for help.

The Salvation Army or the St. Vincent de Paul Society might be some other options.

And of course, Pineau says watching your energy use carefully can keep those bills from racking up in the first place.