Wisconsin Public Service (WPS) reports that as of the end of February 2014, nearly 26,000 of its customers were four months or more behind on their utility bills. Customers could face disconnection of their utility service after April 15, unless they make prior payments or arrangements. State law bars utilities from disconnecting residential service from Nov. 1 to April 15 annually. WPS reports that the number of customers past due is slightly higher than last year but the amount they owe is substantially higher because of the colder winter.
“We don’t want to disconnect service to customers who are behind, but unless we come to an arrangement with them, disconnection is a good possibility,” said Kerry Spees, WPS spokesperson. “We owe it to our good-paying customers to be diligent in our efforts to collect.” WPS disconnected service to around 15,000 customers in 2013.
Spees urged customers who are behind and have not yet contacted the utility to do so right away by calling (866) 215-5812. Waiting until near the end of the winter period when disconnects are not allowed will make it more difficult to make arrangements to keep service on, he said. “Those customers who contact us early to make arrangements are going to find we’re more flexible with payment options than those who wait,” he said.
Residential customers who have not qualified as low income and have not paid during the winter also face paying a security deposit equal to their highest four consecutive bills. WPS currently holds security deposits of more than $2.6 million from more than 3,000 customers (WPS pays interest on the deposit).
Customers who struggle with winter bills could choose the WPS Budget Billing program, in which they pay an average bill monthly rather than seasonal high and low bills. WPS also has electronic options for payment listed on its Website: www.wisconsinpublicservice.com. Options include automatic monthly withdrawal from bank accounts, as well as one-time payments. Most WPS locations no longer accept walk-in payments, but do have drop boxes. For a list of authorized pay stations, check: http://www.wisconsinpublicservice.com/home/locations.aspx. WPS reminds customers that payments to a drop box or pay station take 1 or 2 days to process.