COVID-19 leaves some struggling to pay energy bill

Posted at 7:12 PM, Aug 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-04 19:12:53-04

INDIANAPOLIS — COVID-19 has left thousands of Hoosiers without a job and that's not the only reason why many people are struggling financially.

One of the issues is energy bills are going up as people spend more time at home.

"A lot of people have said this pandemic has put a mirror up in our face about sort of the shortcomings of society," Kerwin Olson, executive director of Citizens Action Coalition, said. "This really shines a light on the fact that folks do struggle to pay their bills even before the pandemic and the financial consequences of the pandemic."

Those who struggled before the pandemic are likely struggling even more so now as many have lost jobs because of COVID-19 but the bills haven't stopped coming in.

"It's a nightmare," Crystal Gibson, of Beech Grove, said. "The best I can say is a complete nightmare."

Forcing people into their homes for weeks on end, bills have skyrocketed.

"Folks are working at home, folks are going to school at home, residential usage is up," Olson said. "Especially with respect to electricity use."

People like Gibson, who is not working right now, but has four children. Two of them are in school.

"I'm always going around trying to keep lights off, but you the TVs going more, the Chromebooks and laptops they all take up so much," Gibson said.

To help, Gov. Eric Holcomb issued an emergency moratorium to halt disconnecting utilities but that is set to expire Aug. 14.

"I mean it would've already been off," Gibson said.

"There's tens of thousands of Hoosiers right now at risk of losing service should that moratorium be lifted," Olson said.

Olson said he plans on requesting the governor to extend that moratorium since people are still being plagued by the coronavirus.

"That's the one thing we can do to ensure that Hoosiers are healthy and safe in their homes," Olson said. "We can sort out the other problems with other discussions, but first let's protect Hoosiers."

There are groups that can help with paying your bills. You can call 2-1-1 to be connected to some. There's also the low-income home energy assistance programs and The Salvation Army.