HARRISBURG - Pennsylvania's Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) has been extended through April 18.

The program had been slated to end Friday.

The federally funded LIHEAP program provides assistance to qualified households during the winter to defray the cost of heating bills and related expenses. The length of the LIHEAP program varies depending on federal funds.

The program has several components - a regular crisis program, a crisis exception program and a cash grant program.

To apply for assistance, call the LIHEAP hotline at 866-857-7095, visit the Northumberland County Assistance Office, 320 Chestnut St., Sunbury, or call 570-988-5900. Information can also be found at www.compass.state.pa.us.

In other news, the state Public Utility Commission said consumers who are behind on their electric and gas bills could have service terminated as of April 1.

"If consumers receive a termination notice, do not ignore it. Taking the steps to avoid termination means customers also avoid reconnection fees and security deposits, which can add up and make service reconnection expensive," PUC Chairman Robert F. Powelson said in a prepared statement.

The commission said those who get a termination notice should call the utility immediately. Customers may call the PUC at 800-692-7380 if needed.

State law dictates the utility company must provide two notices before terminating service. Customers are given the opportunity to make payment arrangements.