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Utility shut-off ban ends, but help is available to Pennsylvanians

PITTSBURGH — A utility shut-off ban ended Thursday, allowing utility companies to cut service to customers for not paying.

While the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission’s ban is over, utility companies say anyone behind on their bills should call them and either sign up for an assistance program or set up a payment plan.

Millions of dollars are available. Officials told Channel 11′s news exchange partners at TribLIVE that people haven’t been applying for it.

Some of the options include the American Rescue Plan Act, the Dollar Energy Fund, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program and the Emergency Rental Assistance Program.

West Penn Power told TribLIVE it will not turn off any customer’s electricity Thursday. Instead, the company will send customers a 10-day notice if they are on the list to have electrical service terminated.

Each company has taken a different approach.

According to the PUC, 890,000 accounts statewide are in danger of termination, and regulated utilities are owed a combined $856 million.

People should keep their guard up as the shut-off ban ends. Scammers will likely try to take advantage of the situation in ways like trying to convince people that they can avoid a service shut-off by paying their bill with a gift card.