Indiana moratorium on utility shut-offs starts

2012-12-04T14:00:00Z 2012-12-04T15:56:10Z Indiana moratorium on utility shut-offs startsBy Keith Benman keith.benman@nwi.com, (219) 933-3326 nwitimes.com

Indiana Utility Consumer Counselor David Stippler is reminding Hoosiers the state's winter utility disconnection moratorium has begun and will continue through March 15.

The moratorium helps Indiana's neediest utility consumers keep the heat on during the winter months even if they cannot pay their bill in full, provided they take certain steps to qualify.

To qualify, a consumer must be receiving heat aid from a federally funded Energy Assistance Program, such as those administered by Northwest Indiana Community Action and other social service agencies. Or the consumer must make application for the Energy Assistance Program and provide proof they qualify to their utility.

Even if consumers qualify for the winter utility disconnection moratorium, they should still contact their utility as soon as they cannot pay a utility bill in full, Stippler said. That way, payment arrangements can be made that will prevent the home's utilities from being turned off once the moratorium ends.

“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,” Stippler said.

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, according to the Office of Utility Consumer Counselor. Services may also be disconnected in cases of meter tampering or fraudulent or unauthorized use of services by the consumer.

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