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Consumers Energy hasn’t shut off power to non-paying homes since COVID-19 pandemic hit

More people can’t pay their Consumers Energy bills in 2020 than before because of the pandemic, but the company hasn’t shut off service to any households since COVID-19 hit Michigan in March.

Consumers is putting up $12 million to help customers affected by the pandemic pay their bills, the utility announced Tuesday, Sept. 29. The plan is to help at least 25,000 households and 1,000 small businesses with the funding, per a news release.

For a small percentage of the funding, anybody who makes 400% of the federal poverty level or less is eligible to get help – which equates to about $51,000 or less for individuals and $104,000 or less for a family of four.

The company hasn’t specified how somebody must be affected by COVID-19 to be eligible for the main chunk of the funding. Consumers will review accounts in October and alert people who may be eligible.

Residents can receive up to $500 in aid and businesses can get up to $5,000.

Consumers had suspended shutting off power to delinquent business customers, but restarted those disconnections in the past month, Consumers officials said. Power shutoffs to houses are expected to restart in October once the $12 million aid program is underway.

Company officials declined to share how many more people are having trouble paying their energy bills compared to 2019, but said there has been an increase in deferred payment requests.

Michiganders seeking financial assistance – for energy bills or any other needs – can call 2-1-1, a free service that connects residents with groups that can help.

COVID-19 PREVENTION TIPS

In addition to washing hands regularly and not touching your face, officials recommend practicing social distancing, assuming anyone may be carrying the virus.

Health officials say you should be staying at least 6 feet away from others and working from home, if possible.

Use disinfecting wipes or disinfecting spray cleaners on frequently-touched surfaces in your home (door handles, faucets, countertops) and carry hand sanitizer with you when you go into places like stores.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has also issued executive orders requiring people to wear face coverings over their mouth and nose while in public indoor and crowded outdoor spaces. See an explanation of what that means here.

Additional information is available at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.

For more data on COVID-19 in Michigan, visit https://www.mlive.com/coronavirus/data/.

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