Iowans can get relief from many utility bills during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Iowa Office of Consumer Advocate recommends that consumers pay what they can to avoid problems in the future, however.
The Iowa Utilities Board issued an emergency order on March 27 approving a moratorium on disconnections of electric and natural gas utility service, and investor-owned water utilities, during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
The moratorium will allow customers to retain these utility services during the emergency even if they cannot pay all of their utility bills.
“Customers who are able to pay should pay their utility bills, or even just a portion. That will prevent large unpaid balances and reduce the potential for service disconnection once the public health emergency has passed,” said Consumer Advocate Jennifer Easler.
Customers experiencing financial difficulty should contact their utility service provider to explore payment options, assistance programs, and low-cost steps to conserve energy and water. The Low-Income Home Energy Program (LIHEAP) application period for heating assistance has been extended to May 31.
The disconnection moratorium applies to customers served by Iowa American Water Co. Easler and Attorney General Tom Miller join the Iowa Utilities Board in strongly encouraging all water utilities ― including rural, municipal, and cooperative ― to suspend disconnecting any customers until the public health emergency ends.
“Water disconnections during this pandemic are unacceptable,” Miller and Easler said. “Personal hygiene is a critical part of limiting the spread of the COVID-19 virus.”
Customers with utility issues or questions may submit a complaint online at https://iub.iowa.gov/utility-complaints-or-inquiries, or contact the IUB Customer Service Department by telephone at 877.565.4450 or 515.725.7321 and by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.