Consumers Energy suspends shutoffs because of the bitter cold - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Consumers Energy temporarily suspends shutoffs because of the bitter cold

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(01/27/14) - Monday was certainly not a day you'd want to be without heat or electricity in your home.

It's a scary situation for people on the verge of a shutoff.     

Consumers Energy says it has delayed disconnects, for those behind on their bills, Monday and Tuesday because of the bitter cold.

Spokesman Kevin Keane said they will reassess Wednesday.

Consumers Energy also suspended shutoffs earlier this month because of the cold then, according to Keane. He said Consumers is the main supplier of electricity and heat for the ABC12 viewing area.

Even though shutoffs have been pushed back a few days now, they will eventually pick back up.

The only customers who have guaranteed winter shutoff protection are the elderly.

Senior citizens of record, that means you must make your utility company aware of your age, will not be shut off for nonpayment from Nov. 1-March 31. That is clearly posted on the Consumers website.

For everyone else, the message was very clear when we called around Monday - if you think, even suspect, that you may be close to a point where your power or heat could be cut, call your company.

"As soon as you think you might have trouble with your Consumers bill, that's the time to call Consumers Energy," Keane said. "The earlier you call, the more opportunities there are to help you."

There are resources available for certain situations. For Consumers Energy programs, click HERE.

Keane also pointed out there are things you can do around your home to try and lower your monthly bill.

"Conservation around the house is very easy and you can find more than 100 ways that are low cost, or no cost ways, to save energy right on the Consumers website," he said.

If you don't have access to the Internet to search for those resources or payment programs, the Michigan Public Service Commission suggests you try calling 211. People answering the phones will help connect with almost any human or social service in your area.

"Preferably you avoid getting the notice because you've contacted the utility and you're on a program designed to prevent shutoff," said MPSC Spokeswoman Judy Palnau.

"People are using more gas because of the cold temperatures. Some 80 percent of households in Michigan use gas for heating," she said. "The good news is, we're at an 11 year low with natural gas prices.  We're paying less per unit of gas, but we're using more of it."

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