MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- The deep freeze may be over, but many will be feeling the financial effects of this harsh winter for months to come. The heating moratorium will soon be lifted. It's vital to get your bills straightened out before your electricity is disconnected -- and there is help available.
Now may be the opportune time to head over to the Social Development Commission.
"We don't have long lines now, but once those disconnection notices start we will start to see an influx of clients coming in," Sandra White with the SDC said.
Jacqueline Cutler is one of many looking for energy assistance.
"My bills are definitely at least $100 more each month. I'm hoping I'll be able to get help," Cutler said.
"In general, this winter has been tough. We anticipate the average residential customer is going to be paying about 34% more than they paid last winter," Cathy Schulze with We Energies said.
Since November 1st, a heating moratorium has been in place, but Schulze says it's scheduled to end in a few weeks.
"That will be coming up April 15th. This is the time of year we want to get the word out to people. If they have fallen behind on their bills, now is the time to try and get caught up," Schulze said.
While disconnection is a possibility, Schulze says it's always the last resort. There are many things customers can do to prevent disconnection.
"Budget billing. It takes your bill and spreads it out a little more evenly over the course of 12 months so you can avoid those high spikes during the winter and the heating months," Schulze said.
In addition to flexible payment plans, Sandra White with the Social Development Commission says there are energy assistance programs available if you qualify.
"We have the regular energy assistance program which starts October 1st and goes through May 15th, and we also have crisis assistance for individuals pending a disconnection," White said.
The key is to reach out for help before it's too late.
"We've seen quite a few people coming in and getting help. Last month we served nearly 4,000 individuals," White said.
We Energies is also issuing an alert to customers -- saying this is the time of year We Energies sees an increase in scam activity because con artists know the company is trying to communicate with customers at risk of being disconnected.
We Energies encourages customers to be on the lookout for any suspicious emails or phone calls -- and call We Energies to verify your account information.
CLICK HERE for information on the Social Development Commission's Energy Assistance Program.
CLICK HERE to contact We Energies.