Natural gas utility Black Hills Energy offers payment plans to qualifying customers and contact information for local energy assistance agencies to customers who call seeking options for managing their account.

“We encourage customers concerned about their bill to call us before it’s due,” said Tracy Peterson, Operating Vice President for Iowa Gas.

“We can walk you through the qualification and enrollment process for our budget-friendly payment plans, and put you in touch with the right assistance agency if that’s a good option.”

For customers with Internet access, www.blackhillsenergy.com is a good place to start.  Black Hills Energy’s 24-hour, toll-free customer solutions number is 888-890-5554.

The suggestion to contact Black Hills as soon as possible is timely, because as we exit the winter heating season, many customers have balances due on their utility bills. Several public agencies can help customers in need including the local office of the Iowa Community Action Association, which manages the federally funded Low Income Energy Assistance Program. Their website is www.iowacommunityaction.org

Another calendar-sensitive program is the annual Iowa Cold Weather Rule, which applies to all public utilities November 1 through April 1. A payment plan available to qualifying customers until April 1 may not be an option April 2. In addition, Black Hills suspends bill-based service interruptions from Nov. 1 through April 1 if the temperature is expected to be 20 degrees or colder within the next 24 hours.

“We reach out in many ways to our customers and communities throughout the year,” Peterson said.

“For example, we match donations from employees and customers to our Black Hills Cares program. We forward the tax-deductible donation and company match to the donor’s local agency, so you know you’re helping someone in your community.”

Black Hills Energy bill stubs include a form for making an optional one-time or monthly donation to Black Hills Cares.