The Iowa Utilities Board is encouraging Iowa electric and natural gas customers struggling to pay utility bills to make payment arrangements with their provider before the winter moratorium on service disconnections begins next month.
The state’s winter moratorium law prevents utilities from disconnecting customers’ electric or natural gas utility service for nonpayment between Nov. 1 and April 30 when the service is being used for home heating.
Limited financial assistance is available through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). The annual application period also runs from Nov. 1 to April 30. (A similar program is available for Illinois Quad Citians.)
In the Iowa program, Iowa households with a resident 60 years of age or older, those who are disabled, and those in crisis are eligible to apply now. Visit a local community action agency outreach office – such as Community Action of Eastern Iowa – to apply for this and other programs.
Iowa law protects qualified applicants who are the head of a household from being disconnected during the annual winter moratorium. However, the IUB urges all LIHEAP-certified customers to continue paying toward their energy bills through the winter to avoid accumulating a higher debt and facing potential disconnection after April 1.
Customers currently disconnected must contact their utility provider to make payment arrangements to restore service.
LIHEAP is designed to help low-income homeowners and renters pay a portion of their primary home heating costs through a one-time payment made directly to the utility or heating fuel vendor. It is administered by the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services, Community Access Division, Community Action Agencies.
During 2022, more than 100,000 Iowa households received LIHEAP funding to assist with a portion of their heating costs, with an average statewide heating assistance benefit of approximately $765.
Customers who are unable to reach an agreement with or have concerns about their utility company or service can file a complaint about their utility by contacting IUB Customer Service staff at (877) 565-4450 or firstname.lastname@example.org.