NIPSCO is reminding customers that financial help with utility bills is still available after brutal winter weather stretched home heating budgets in households across northern Indiana.
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, called LIHEAP, still has funds available, and applications will be accepted through May 17. Households with income up to 150 percent of the federal poverty level qualify. For a family of four, that means the household could have an income up to $35,775 and still qualify.
Qualifying for LIHEAP can also make customers eligible for a discount of 11 percent to 26 percent on their bills through the NIPSCO Customer Assistance for Residential Energy, or CARE, discount program.
For information on those two assistance programs and others, NIPSCO customers can call (800) 4NIPSCO ( (800) 464-7726).
Indiana's moratorium on shut-offs of utility customers qualifying for LIHEAP ended on March 15, so any customer with a shut-off notice or in danger of one should call NIPSCO. Even if they do not qualify for an assistance program, the utility can sometimes arrange payment programs to keep the utilities on.
January and February heating bills this winter were on average $30 more than bills for those same months last year, due to a 30 percent increase in usage by NIPSCO customers. Those two months had a total of 20 days when temperatures dipped to 0 degrees or below.
Customers receiving help from LIHEAP have increased 15 percent this year and the average assistance grant has risen 7 percent compared to last year, according to NIPSCO.