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Thousands of Iowa Families Behind on Utility Bills

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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) Thousands of Iowa households are behind on their utility bills in the wake of winter's subzero weather.

The Iowa Utilities Board figures say that as of February, more than 243,000 households were in arrears 4 percent more than a year ago. But because of the severe cold and the higher costs of natural gas and propane, the amount of the debt has hit $46 million 40 percent more than the figure in February 2013.

William Brand is administrator of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program in Iowa, and he says 38,000 of the Iowa households in the program are behind on their bills by a total of $11.7 million. April 1 marks the end of the winter moratorium on utility shutoffs for those households.

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