April 15th is an important time of year. Income taxes are due by April 15th. Leonardo Da Vinci was born on April 15th. But the reason we want to bring this to your attention is because April 15th was the last date of the energy shutoff moratorium in Wisconsin.
As long as you have service on November 1, the start of the moratorium, Wisconsin law says that your heat-providing utility cannot disconnect the service between November 1st and April 15th. This covers individuals in homes, but does not include businesses.
Whether you have Xcel Energy, WE Energies, Alliant Energy or Madison Gas & Electric, you should know your rights with your utility providers. If you’re struggling with utility payments, what options are available to you?
- Bankruptcy – A bankruptcy filing can prevent a disconnection or help restore service. Upon a filing, the utility will shut down the old account(s) and open up a new account, typically with a refundable security deposit. The pre-filing debt can be eliminated in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy or repaid over a Chapter 13 or other reorganization plan
- Chapter 128 – A petition to amortize debts under Section 128.21 of the Wisconsin statutes could allow a reasonable timeframe to repay old utility arrears. However, one Milwaukee circuit court case held that the filing of the Chapter 128 plan doesn’t prevent the utility from following through on a disconnection. This is an open question for most of the state. If you are looking to stop a disconnection notice or restore service, you may be better off with other options. Speak with a lawyer before using this strategy.
- The Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program (WHEAP). WHEAP helps over 200,000 Wisconsin household each year and provides one-time heating assistance from October 1 through May 15th, a one-time electric assistance, crisis assistance for emergencies, and furnace assistance. Aid is provided based on household size. Those who are seeking this assistance should go to homeenergyplus.wi.gov or call 866-432-8947.
Utilities are essential, especially in the cold Wisconsin winters. The most important step to take is to reach out for assistance immediately instead of waiting until mid-April or May If you have energy concerns, please make sure to mention them to your attorney to learn what options you have may to stop a future interruption of service and continue to stay warm (or cool) and keep the lights on.