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Integrys Energy Group, Inc. : Wisconsin Public Service Customers Risk Losing Service After Winter Moratorium Ends April 15

03/26/2013 | 01:54pm US/Eastern

For Release: 03/26/2013

Wisconsin Public Service Customers Risk Losing Service After Winter Moratorium Ends April 15

Green Bay, WI - Wisconsin Public Service (WPS) reports that as of the end of February 2013, nearly 25,000 of its customers were four months or more behind on their utility bills. Those customers could face disconnection of their utility service after April 15, 2013, unless they make payments or arrangements before then. State law bars utilities from disconnecting residential service from November 1 to April 15 annually.

"This year, the number of customers past due is higher as is the amount they owe, likely because of the colder temperatures this year," said Kerry Spees, WPS spokesperson.

"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," Spees said. WPS disconnected service to around 17,000 customers in 2012. "We owe it to our good-paying customers to be diligent in our efforts to collect," he said.

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 paid during the winter also face paying a security deposit equal to their highest four bills in a row. WPS currently holds security deposits of more than $2.2 million from more than 2,400 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: 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 : WPS reminds customers that payments to a drop box or pay station take 1 or 2 days to process.

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