CHICAGO (CBS) — An elderly West Side Chicago woman who was hit with a $44,000 gas bill, has been offered a payment plan from the utility.

People’s Gas workers who were replacing lines in the North Lawndale neighborhood said they found an unmetered second line running into the home of 70-year-old Annie Morish, who has lived there for 20 years.

If somebody added the extra line, she said she knew nothing about it. People’s sent her a bill for 10 years worth of gas–$44,206.82.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser Reports

“I know nothing about this,” she told WBBM’s Mike Krauser on Friday.

Morris said she was told that she should have known her gas bill was too low. Morish said she has been paying $100 to $150 a month for gas for years.

“If my bill was too low, why are you just now coming to check this?” she asked.

As for a payment plan, she said she is on a fixed income and can’t afford it.

Without heat, Morish sits dressed in layers in her home in the 1300 block of South Troy, facing a cold future with a gigantic gas bill.

“They’ve got to be crazy. I called them and they told me it had to be paid,” Morish told CBS 2’s Pamela Jones earlier this week.

She said she’s been without heat for more than two weeks. Without gas service, the thermostat in her home registered at 55 degrees on Wednesday, only a little warmer than it was outside. She is using electric heaters, which will cause her electric bill to go up.

Morish said the company removed her old gas meter, accusing her of stealing gas.

Peoples Gas issued a statement Friday.

“Peoples Gas discovered an illegal connection into our service pipe that was bypassing the meter at this property. Tampering with natural gas service pipes is very dangerous and as a result our crew disconnected this property. We requested permission to further inspect the service but were not permitted inside for several days. Once a payment arrangement has been agreed, we will send our service crew back to the property for a final safety inspection before turning the service back on.”

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