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NM Consumers Face Utility Shutoffs

March 22, 2007

The heating season isn't over yet, but winter shut-off moratorium for home energy to low-income families has already ended. Kathryn Turnipseed with Community Action New Mexico urges people with past due bills to contact their utility companies to negotiate a reasonable payment plan to make sure their families stay warm.

"When you call them, have in mind what is really affordable for you and try to negotiate a reasonable payment plan."

Turnipseed says, if the customer service representative isn't willing to give longer than a 30-day extension, consumers should ask to speak to a supervisor. As many as 11,000 low-income customers in New Mexico are facing past-due energy bills as the moratorium ends. Turnipseed notes more help is needed throughout the state as energy costs continue to rise and become unaffordable to more families.

"We would like to see everyone get on board with looking at more creative strategies such as discount rates or percentage of income payment plans."

Consumers can file a complaint and learn more about their legal rights from the Public Regulation Commission consumer division at 1-800-663-9782.

Eric Mack, Public News Service - NM