With the winter heating season underway, The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor says Hoosiers should be aware of the state's winter disconnection moratorium and how it works.
Indiana's statutory disconnection moratorium can help the neediest consumers stay connected to natural gas and electric services during the year's coldest months. But it only applies under certain circumstances. The moratorium is in effect from Dec. 1 through March 15.
To qualify for the moratorium, residents must either:
1. Receive help from the federally funded Energy Assistance Program (EAP) through a local Community Action Agency (CAA); or
2. Qualify for EAP funds, apply for the program at a local Community Action Agency (CAA), and provide the utility with written proof of eligibility for assistance.
The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor's (OUCC's) "Winter Disconnection Moratorium" fact sheet is a free publication that answers the most frequently asked questions about the moratorium.
Consumers should know that:
• All consumers are responsible for paying utility bills, even if covered by the moratorium.
• If you cannot pay a utility bill on time and in full, contact the utility immediately to make payment arrangements as early as possible.
• In most Indiana counties, residents can learn about financial resources for utility bill assistance by dialing 211.
"It is essential that all consumers communicate with their utilities. If a consumer can't pay his or her bill in full, he or she should contact the utility, explain his or her personal situation, and try to set up payment arrangements," says Indiana Utility Consumer Counselor David Stippler. "The sooner a consumer contacts the utility about payment arrangements, the more likely it is that the utility will work with the consumer to maintain utility services."
Even if a consumer is covered under the moratorium, gas and electric services may still be disconnected if conditions are dangerous to life, physical safety or property.
Services may also be disconnected in cases of meter tampering or fraudulent or unauthorized use of services by the consumer.
The OUCC's Winter Disconnection Moratorium fact sheet is offered in both English and Spanish and is available online at www.IN.gov/OUCC .
Consumers who do not have Internet access can call the OUCC toll-free at 1-888-441-2494 to request a free copy.