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Know the facts about the winter utility disconnection moratorium

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With the winter heating season underway, Hoosiers should be aware of the state’s winter disconnection moratorium and how it works, the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) said.

Indiana’s statutory disconnection moratorium (Indiana Code 8-1-2-121) 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 December 1 through March 15.

To qualify for the moratorium, you must either:

•Receive help from the federally funded Energy Assistance Program (EAP) through your local Community Action Agency (CAA).

Or 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 OUCC’s “Winter Disconnection Moratorium” fact sheet is a free publication which answers the most frequently asked questions about the moratorium.

Consumers should know the following:

•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. If you need to make payment arrangements, it is crucial that you communicate with the utility as early as possible.

•In most Indiana counties, you can learn about financial resources for utility bill assistance by dialing 211.

“It is essential that all consumers communicate with their utilities,” said Indiana Utility Consumer Counselor David Stippler. “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. 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 (888) 441-2494 to request a free copy.

The OUCC represents Indiana consumer interests before state and federal bodies that regulate utilities. As a state agency, the OUCC’s mission is to represent all Indiana consumers to ensure quality, reliable utility services at the most reasonable prices possible through dedicated advocacy, consumer education, and creative problem solving.

Visit www.IN.gov/OUCC

www.twitter.com/IndianaOUCC

or www.facebook.com/IndianaOUCC

Posted 12/3/2102