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Consumers Energy and DTE Energy are suspending service shutoffs for senior citizens and low-income customers because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

"Recognizing that many of our customers are in a position where they are unable to work, we are suspending shutoffs for non-pay for low-income and senior customers beginning March 16, 2020 through April 5, 2020," Consumers Energy said Monday in a statement.  "These time frames could be adjusted depending on the spread and severity of the virus."

Consumers Energy also said that senior citizens and low-income customers enrolled in the energy company's Winter Protection Program have already had their end dates extended through May 3 and don't need to take any action. The program helps prevent heating service shut-offs and addresses high payments from Nov. 1 to March 31. 

"This ensures our most vulnerable customers have the services they need during this state of emergency," the company said. "All shut-off notices will be withheld to prevent any additional stress for these customers."

Based in Jackson, Consumers Energy provides natural gas and electricity to 6.7 million of the state’s 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.

On Saturday, DTE Energy said it was suspending shutoffs for low-income customers for the next three weeks and has extended its Senior Winter Protection Program through May 3.

"In the face of this global coronavirus pandemic, we are on high alert to help those customers whose lives are being disrupted," it said in a statement. "As a result, we are suspending shutoffs for non-payment for those customers who are low income eligible, effective immediately through April 5, 2020."

It also said any customers who are impacted by COVID-19, whether through a sudden loss of income or a medical condition, and vulnerable senior citizens should call the company at 1 (800) 477-4747 to see if they are eligible for DTE's payment assistance program.

Based in Detroit, DTE Energy provides electricity to 2.2 million customers in southeast Michigan and provides natural gas to 1.3 million customers in Michigan.

 cramirez@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @CharlesERamirez

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