Can an electric and/or gas company turn off your service if there are children in the home?
Monies due - $3,000+ ; Monies paid- $1,000+ . Service off since 04/13; 3 children under age 7. No fresh food/milk, etc, due to fridge not running; no heat. Utility company refuses to turn on service even with payment towards total and it will not make payment plan with service; it requires bill paid in full before return of service. Any advice or law for protection?
Many states have laws governing this situation, and MD is one of them. In periods of extreme cold and hot weather, there are regulations that limit the utilities' ability to terminate customers. However, the cold weather restrictions don't apply after April 1st.
There is a once-a-year benefit from the Fuel Fund; additionally, the fund can still help people put together payments from other sources. Also, there are state resources as well and, unlike the Fuel Fund, the state programs don't require applicants to have a received a turnoff notice although income eligibility limits are lower.
For help, contact the Maryland Energy Assistance Program, it provides assistance with home heating bills; the Electric Universal Service Program assists with electric bills. The programs help those with incomes up to 175 % of the federal poverty level and consider the last 30 days of income. For a family of 4 that currently is monthly income of $3,215. Benefits are once a year. Applicants should contact the local office in their jurisdiction. Go to http://www.dhr.state.md.us/ohep/ or call 1-800-352-1446 or 1-800-352-1446. Also, the Fuel Fund Of Maryland aids those with incomes up to double the federal poverty level. In cases of extreme hardship, income limits may not apply. Benefits are once a year, but the organization can help direct those who already have received aid to potential other sources. Go to http://www.fuelfundmaryland.org/index.shtml and click on the "Get assistance" tab or call 410-821-3022 or 410-821-3022.
Finally, just keep at your utility provider about arranging a re-payment plan. Best of luck.