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Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Don't Ignore Those Hydro Bills.

Midhurst | by Ian MacLennan  

The no winter disconnect policy has local United Way concerned some customers are letting bills pile up

 United Way Simcoe Muskoka is concerned people who need help paying their utility and or gas bills don't let things pile up just because electricity companies can no longer disconnect consumers in the winter.

Programs Manager Nancy Smith says the local United Way operates a call centre to connect residents to services like the LEAP program(Low-Income Energy Assistance Program).

UWSM works with six utilities(Hydro One, Enbridge Gas, Union Gas, Inn Power, Alectra (PowerStream), or Veridian).

Smith says the call volume for assistance has been low.

That has raised a few red flags.

Smith says they don't want to see people get their bills too high.

Under the LEAP program,  a customer can apply for emergency grants of up to $500($600 for electrical heating) once per calendar year.

Utility companies are bound by law not to disconnect between the end of November and the end of April.

Smith says the worry is those bills might be out of sight and out of mind for some people who are struggling to pay but know they won't be disconnected during the winter.

She says they don't want customers getting to May 1st and the disconnection ban is lifted, and they need assistance but their bills are way too high and it's out of control.

In 2017,  the United Way assisted 1, 584 households in Simcoe Muskoka with a funding total of nearly $634,000 among the six utility partners the agency works with.

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