Ohio Consumers’ Counsel Reacts To Ban On Winter Disconnections, Urges Customers To Call 1-877-PICKOCC For Assistance

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OhioÂ?s winter moratorium announced today is welcome news for residential consumers, the Office of the Ohio ConsumersÂ? Counsel (OCC) said.

Ohio’s winter moratorium announced today is welcome news for residential consumers, the Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel (OCC) said. Today, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) ordered the moratorium in response to yesterday’s request by Governor Ted Strickland that it consider the ban on shutting off customers’ heating sources during this winter heating season. The moratorium will apply to customers at or below 175 percent of the federal poverty guideline, however the PUCO indicated it will look at raising the level which would help more customers.

Even with the moratorium, consumers will still need to eventually pay their bills and many may need to work out a payment plan or have questions or complaints. The OCC is urging residential consumers to call its hotline and take advantage of its free services.

“We applaud the Governor’s actions to protect consumers and we are pleased the PUCO quickly responded to ensure that struggling consumers will have heat when they need it most,” said Janine Migden-Ostrander, Consumers’ Counsel. “Given that natural gas prices have doubled over the last several years, we hope the PUCO will raise the eligibility to 200 percent of the poverty level, or even higher.

“Consumers will likely need help this winter and can contact our office to answer questions, respond to service quality complaints, assist with payment arrangements and provide energy efficiency tips,” she said.

The toll-free statewide hotline, 1-877-PICKOCC (1-877-742-5622), connects Ohioans to the OCC, their residential utility consumer advocate. Representatives are available Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. An automated informational voicemail service is available 24 hours a day.

In addition to the toll-free number, consumers can reach consumer service representatives by sending requests or questions to occ@occ.state.oh.us, visiting the Web site at http://www.pickocc.org or by writing to Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel, 10 W. Broad Street, 18th floor, Columbus, Ohio 43215.

About the Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel

The Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel (OCC), the residential utility consumer advocate, represents the interests of 4.5 million households in proceedings before state and federal regulators and in the courts. The state agency also educates consumers about electric, natural gas, telephone and water issues and resolves complaints from individuals. To receive utility information, brochures, schedule a presentation or file a utility complaint, residential consumers may call 1-877-PICKOCC (1-877-742-5622) toll free in Ohio or visit the OCC Web site at http://www.pickocc.org.

Contact: Ryan Lippe

(614) 466-7269

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