Published: Tuesday, March 4, 2014 --- 9:30 p.m.
During the winter months there's a legal moratorium on shutting off heat so people don't freeze to death. Once the weather gets warmer that's lifted. For thousands of customers who can't pay their energy bills, they could be in trouble soon.
Timothy Bruer blames the bitterly cold temperatures and this winter's propane shortage: "I have never seen the kind of demand for assistance on a crisis-basis as we're seeing today."
His non-profit Energy Services Inc. administers state and federal home heating help to households that are facing energy emergencies. At its Keep Wis. Warm/Cool Fund call center, operators answer around 2,000 calls from people in need each day.
"The only light at the end of the tunnel for these households I really believe will be an oncoming train," Bruer said. "Because we will begin dealing with the utility disconnections and emergency shortages in the next coming days."
The fund provides a one-time grant for those who are struggling. Employees try to work out affordable payment agreements with utility companies and customers so they can keep the power on. It relies solely on donations from the community. Now more than ever, Bruer says he needs Wisconsinites to contribute so there isn't an energy crisis.
To donate, make payments to:
Keep Wis. Warm/Cool Fund
PO Box 68
Madison, WI 53701