Utilities Stop Shutoffs during COVID-19; Supports May 31 LIHEAP Applications

The Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) on March 13, 2020, issued an emergency order directing all electric and natural gas utilities in the state to cease disconnection of residential service due to nonpayment. The emergency order, issued in Docket No. SPU-2020-0003, comes in response to a statewide disaster proclamation of public health emergency issued on March 9, 2020, by Gov. Kim Reynolds to enhance the state’s response to novel coronavirus (COVID-19). 

The extended moratorium period will continue until May 1, 2020. Income-eligible Iowans typically have until April 30 each year to apply for limited financial heating assistance through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). The application deadline was extended to May 31 this year by the Iowa Department of Human Rights (IDPH).

The LIHEAP program is designed to help low-income families meet the partial cost of home heating through a one-time payment made directly to the utility or heating fuel vendor. Iowa law also protects qualified applicants who are the head of a household from being disconnected from natural gas or electric service during the annual winter moratorium, normally November 1 through April 1.

Dubuque County customers seeking LIHEAP financial assistance for utility bills should contact our local community action agency, Operation New View, to discuss eligibility guidelines. Although qualified applicants cannot be disconnected during the moratorium, the IUB urges all LIHEAP-certified customers to continue paying toward their energy bills to avoid accumulating high debt and facing potential utility service disconnection once the moratorium period ends.

The statewide extension period issued by IUB order applies to all investor-owned, municipal and cooperative utilities in Iowa.  

For the latest guidelines about preventing the spread of COVID-19, see the IDPH novel coronavirus (COVID-19) webpage. Read Gov. Kim Reynolds’ March 9, 2020, proclamation here.

Contact Operation New View for questions about LIHEAP or other utility questions in Dubuque, Delaware, and Jackson counties.