Winter concerns for utility companies

Winter weather has returned in earnest within the last couple of weeks.

Whenever it does, it brings some unique concerns for electric companies and their customers.

A little snow on a roof can serve as extra insulation, and many homeowners know about the importance of clearing excess snow and ice from a roof.

But the same steps that prevent a roof from caving in also help protect electric company equipment.

UPPCO customer care manager Jodi Pineau says snow or ice can easily damage meters or lines if enough of it slides off of a roof, so she asks residents to make sure there isn’t too much buildup on a roof at any one time.

Some customers are concerned about falling behind on their accounts.

Pineau says if you’re struggling to stay current on your bills, you should stay in touch with your utility providers about your situation and try to arrange a payment plan.

She says it helps to pay whatever you can, and charitable organizations may be able to help.

The Michigan Home Heating Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit may also help.

Utility companies do have the legal right in Michigan to disconnect service in the wintertime for nonpayment, but UPPCO and many other providers choose to not do so.