Posted April 8, 2013 --- 4:19 p.m.
Press Release from Alliant Energy:
-Utility bill collections to increase with end of moratorium on disconnections
-Amid continued reports of scam calls, customers advised to verify account status when paying
MADISON, WI – April 8, 2013 – Wisconsin Power and Light Company (WPL), an Alliant Energy company, today advised customers who are behind on their utility bills to take action now. Wisconsin’s moratorium on disconnection of utility service ends April 15.
WPL also advised customers to verify their account status and make payments only through its secure automated telephone and online payment methods due to periodic reports of scam phone calls threatening utility disconnection.
“We have heard periodic reports primarily from Spanish-speaking customers, that they’ve received calls that threaten disconnection and ask them to purchase a prepaid card,” said Tim Heinrich, director of customer support services. “We want our customers to know that while we place collections calls prior to disconnection we do not ask customers to purchase prepaid cards.”
He added, “Customers who are unsure of the identity of a caller are advised to hang up and call 1-800-ALLIANT to verify their account status and make arrangements for secure payment.”
To make a secure payment on an Alliant Energy bill, customers can use these automated options:
Online payment – To make an instant online payment, go to alliantenergy.com/payonline and use your Alliant Energy utility account number and bank account information.
Pay by phone – Call 1-800-ALLIANT (800-255-4268) and follow the instructions in the interactive system. Have your Alliant Energy utility account number and bank account information handy.
Customers can also speak with a customer service representative.
Customers who are behind on their bills can use the minimum payment option. This option reflects a payment of 30% of the account balance to avoid disconnection. Beginning in June, the percentage increases by 10% each month through September. Customers electing this option will find it is the minimum monthly amount required to ensure a continuation of service.
Energy assistance funds are still available for qualified individuals and families through the Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program (WHEAP). It provides dollars to moderate and low income level households to help pay a portion of their winter gas or electric bills.
Qualified Wisconsin residents can apply to their local county energy assistance agency for WHEAP funds through May 15, 2013. Call 1-866-432-8947 to locate the nearest county agency that provides energy assistance funds or visit homeenergyplus.wi.gov. Qualification for energy assistance is not based on whether someone is behind on their energy bills or rents versus owning a home.
As of March 31, 2013, 27,141 WPL customers were 90 days or more in arrears, up slightly from 26,969 in 2012. The total dollar amount owed by those customers is about $8.9 million, up slightly from $8.7 million last year. If customers make no attempt to pay their bills or set up a payment plan, they may be subject to disconnection after April 15th.
“We know our customers rely on our services for comfort, security and productivity, and we want to work with those who have fallen behind on their payments,” said Heinrich. “It’s important for customers to contact us so we can review their options and keep them connected.”