Thousands of utility customers around Wisconsin could get their power cut off, starting Monday, if they have not been paying their utility bills all winter.

The annual moratorium on disconnections that started Nov. 1 will end on April 15. That means customers who have fallen at least 90 days behind on their bills could lose their electricity unless they make plans to pay up.

For Madison Gas & Electric, 7,752 customers have not paid for three months or longer, or less than 4 percent of MGE’s total accounts.

In all, they owe the utility company $2.1 million, MGE spokesman Steve Schultz said. That’s the same as the total unpaid bills a year ago, but the number of customers who have fallen behind is down around 3 percent.

Schultz said natural gas costs for the typical MGE residential customer this winter totaled about $426 from November through March, about $33 more than last winter.

With a couple of sharp cold spells, this winter was 5 percent colder than last year’s, which was about 9 percent warmer than normal, Schultz said.

He said even though the moratorium on shutoffs is ending, MGE only disconnects customers as a last resort.

“A large percentage of these customers will call or come in and set up a payment arrangement and will never be disconnected,” Schultz said. “MGE does not disconnect service to a customer who is behind on their bill without first attempting to work with that customer.”

Call MGE or Alliant

MGE provides electricity to 151,000 customers in Dane County, and distributes natural gas to 158,000 customers in seven south-central and western Wisconsin counties. Customers seeking to set up a payment plan can call the utility at 608-252-7144.

Alliant Energy, based in Madison, has 958,000 electricity customers and nearly 412,000 natural gas customers, and serves a large portion of south-central Wisconsin outside of Madison. To pay Alliant bills, call 800-255-4268.

Alliant did not have figures available on delinquent bills.

Consumers who cannot reach a payment agreement with their utilities can contact the Wisconsin Public Service Commission consumer affairs department at 800-225-7729, or 608-266-2001 in the Madison area.

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Judy Newman is a business reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal.