AUGUSTA — The so-called winter disconnection period ends this week, meaning electric consumers who are behind on their bills could face shutoffs.

During the winter season, electric and gas utilities may not disconnect service without permission from the Maine Public Utilities Commission’s Consumer Assistance Division. The disconnection protection ends on Wednesday.

PUC chair Sharon Chair Reishus says the commission has rules and services to help consumers who make good-faith efforts to pay their bills avoid disconnection at any time of year.

The next no-shutoff period begins Nov. 15.

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