Moratorium on utility shutoffs in Ind. lifted
March 16, 2009 (WLS) -- Monday ends the period from December 1 to March 15 where utility companies cannot cut off the power. That means that a lot of folks are in danger of losing their gas service.
After such a harsh winter, Monday's gorgeous weather is a welcome sight. With the poor economy and high energy costs, a lot of people are unable to pay their gas bills.
"My husband works construction and has been laid off since October. Trying to find work in this area is really hard for construction workers and December, January's bills just got outrageous," said Vickie Clark, Lake County resident.
"I got a shutoff notice. It's a green slip saying you need to pay something or we're going to cut off your service," said Esther Hutton-Woods, Lake County resident.
"I got my shutoff notice last week. I have been laid off since January 1," said Bob Hebler, Lake County resident.
There is a 7 percent increase in disconnect notices. If you're unable to pay, there are several agencies that can help.
"When a customer gets in touch with us, they can also call one of the energy assistance agencies in their local community. When a customer does get in touch with us. We can put them in touch with an agency who has assistance," said Nick Meyer, NIPSCO.
Some of the other programs that offer assistance include the state energy assistance program which can give up to $750; the Winter Warmth Program which can give up to $450 in assistance; the Gift of Warm Fuel Fund; and Township Trustees whose assistance can vary between communities. Before you can find out what assistance you qualify for, you must first call them or one of these agencies.
"We can get them qualified because there is still funding available in all of the programs and you don't anyone out there to have their gas shut off," said Margot Zabato, South Lake County Community Services.
For a list of the agencies offering assistance, please visit www.nipsco.com.
local, phil schwarz
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