Consumers Energy executives today will outline the company's efforts to help its customers who may be struggling with significantly higher winter heating costs.

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WYOMING, Mich. (WZZM) -- Consumers Energy is announcing help Wednesday for customers struggling to pay high heating costs this winter.

Because of the colder-than-normal temperatures this winter, Consumers executives are predicting many customers will have trouble paying their bills. Two of the utility's top executives Wednesday will outline the ways the company plans to help them.

A Consumers spokesman says this winter's natural gas use will be 27% higher this last year. Customers can expect bills, which are already high, to grow another $30 to $40.

Roger Morgenstern with Consumers says they expect customers who've never had problems paying before to struggle this winter. He says says the utility has payment options and programs that can prevent those bills from climbing and prevent a dreaded service disconnection.

"The challenge is if you get behind there are late charges, there may be reconnection fees if they are disconnected," says Morgenstern. "Those are additional costs because those are additional services we have to provide. What we are saying is call us now, let's work something out. We are willing to work with people, but we don't know what their circumstances are. We need to hear from them so we can help them."

The Consumers Energy website has information on its assistance programs, and advice so people can make their homes more energy efficient.