People struggling to keep up with their electric or gas bill should get help or risk having their utility services terminated.

Beginning Tuesday, people behind in their utility bills could have those services shut off regardless of their income, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission announced recently.

People who receive shut-off notices should call the utility company immediately to make arrangements to avoid the termination, the commission said.

"We try to do this notice annually," said Jennifer Kocher, a PUC spokeswoman. "And we're just trying to be mindful of the cold weather we had this year, and want people to be aware that if they're struggling to pay their bill, they need to reach out to get help."

Meanwhile, the state Department of Public Welfare has announced that the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, is being extended to run through Friday, April 18. The program's initial end date was April 4.

The federally-funded LIHEAP provides cash grants to help income-eligible homeowners or renters pay for home heating fuel.

"Pennsylvania has had a difficult winter, and programs like LIHEAP have helped our move vulnerable households to endure the cold temperatures, said state Gov. Tom Corbett. "By providing this extension, our Department of Public Welfare is able to give individuals additional time to apply for home heating assistance so they can keep warm for the remainder of the season."

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