March 22, 2019 – Indiana’s state moratorium on disconnecting natural gas and electric service to customers who are behind on their bills ended on March 15. Indiana does not disconnect customer’s utility service between December 1 and March 15—if they are enrolled in the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). NIPSCO is reminding their customers that bill payment assistance programs are still available.
Jennifer Montague, Vice President of NIPSCO, said, “We offer a number of programs that can be utilized to help those who may find themselves falling behind on their energy bills. Keeping customers connected and ensuring they are safe and warm is essential.”
Programs available to help NIPSCO customers in Indiana are:
• LIHEAP Program: Support is available to households falling within 150 percent of federal poverty guidelines and is fully funded by a federal block grant offered through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Applications for heating assistance will be accepted through May 18. Summer cooling assistance will begin in June 2019 if remaining funds are available.
• NIPSCO Customer Assistance for Residential Energy (CARE) Discount Program: In addition to the assistance available through LIHEAP, the NIPSCO CARE Discount Program is designed to provide further bill reductions to LIHEAP-eligible customers. Once enrolled in LIHEAP, customers are automatically enrolled in the program, and reductions range from 11 to 26 percent, depending on the same criteria used by the state in determining the level of assistance. CARE discounts are available through May 31 or until funds are exhausted.
• NIPSCO Hardship Program: For customers just outside the federal poverty guidelines for LIHEAP, the NIPSCO Hardship Program offers up to $400 in gas bill assistance to households between 151 and 200 percent of the federal poverty level. Hardship funds are available through many of the same local Community Action Agencies where LIHEAP funds are distributed and are available through May 31 or until funds are exhausted.
• Township Trustees: A limited amount of energy assistance funds are available through local Township Trustee offices. NIPSCO customers are encouraged to contact their local Township Trustee to see what help is available.
• Payment Arrangements: A NIPSCO credit agreement allows customers to make an initial payment within five days of the agreement, then spread the remaining unpaid balance over three months, plus current bills as they are due.
To learn about bill assistance programs in your state, visit the State Snapshots page on the LIHEAP Clearinghouse website.
State moratoriums are either temperature based, date based, or have a seasonal policy. These moratoriums are in place to protect low-income households from utility shutoffs during the months their area endures harsh weather. To learn about the moratorium dates in place in your state, visit the State Disconnect Policies page on the LIHEAP Clearinghouse website.
To learn more about crisis situations following the lifting of winter moratoriums, read the LIHEAP Clearinghouse publication Crisis Following the Lifting of a Winter Moratorium on the LIHEAP Clearinghouse website.
Source: media reports