Stopping a Utility Shut Off


This winter was a long and cold one, and it left many people with a pile of utility bills.  Now that warmer weather is here, so are shut off notices from providers like Alliant Energy, Jo-Carroll Energy, or Black Hills Natural Gas.  Your first, best step is to call the utility company and see if they can work with you to stop a shut off.  But if back utility bills are just one of your debt problems, bankruptcy might be a solution. 

Filing a bankruptcy will stop a shut off.  Utilities, just like other creditors, can't take actions to collect on their debts because the bankruptcy imposes an "automatic stay."   Back amounts that you owe on utility bills are dischargeable in bankruptcy.  If you owe Alliant $1,000 from past due bills, that amount can be written off in bankruptcy. One thing to know, though, is that some utility companies will require you to put down a deposit to get service going forward. So after you file, they may send you a letter requiring a deposit in the amount of one month's bill if you want to keep getting service under your name.  It is a deposit, so if you stay current, you should get it back eventually.