INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana’s winter moratorium on utility disconnection ends on March 15.
Every year, the moratorium runs from Dec. 1 through March 15. Indiana law prevents electric and natural gas utilities from disconnecting a customer’s service if the customer is 1) receiving help from the federally funded Energy Assistance Program (EAP) or 2) qualified for EAP funds, has formally applied for the program at a local EAP intake office and provided the utility with written proof.
The moratorium applies to investor-owned and municipal utilities, along with rural electric membership cooperatives (REMCs). It doesn’t apply to providers of bulk fuel (like propane), along with providers of water, sewage disposal or telecommunications services.
The moratorium is aimed at making sure Hoosiers keep warm during the coldest time of the year. They are still, however, responsible for paying their bills.
The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) said customers who make payment arrangements have “dramatically” lower odds of being disconnected in the spring. The office also recommended people make payments—even if only partial ones—during the wintertime to show a “good-faith effort” to keep up on their bills.
On March 15, any household previously protected by the moratorium could be at risk of disconnection. Utility companies are urging people to get in touch with them as soon as possible.
AES Indiana, for example, suggested customers could avoid disconnection by making a payment arrangement or applying for financial assistance before the moratorium ends.
Winter financial assistance options include:
- The Energy Assistance Program (EAP) can help low-income Hoosiers with natural gas and electric bills. Those who qualify are protected from service disconnection during most of the winter heating season (but remain responsible for charges). For more information, call 1-800-382-9895 toll-free or view the directory of intake offices by county.
- The United Way of Central Indiana’s Winter Assistance Fund runs from November through May for Marion County residents who meet certain income guidelines. The fund helps people who can’t afford heat and electricity but do not qualify for EAP.
- AES Indiana offers its Power of Change program, which provides one-time grants for electric bill assistance.
- Citizens Energy Group’s Warm Heart Warm Home Foundation also offers grants to help customers keep their utility service and catch up on past-due bills.
- Duke Energy’s Share the Light Fund provides up to $300 to customers to help with bills, deposits and reconnection/connection charges.
- Additional help may be available from township trustees or private charities; the state recommends contacting Indiana 211 for more information.