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How to get help with Indiana utility bills

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Posted at 3:34 PM, Oct 12, 2022

INDIANAPOLIS — With winter approaching, utility companies across Indiana are telling customers that prices will likely be higher this winter.

The heating season is described as November through March.

State and federal utility assistance dollars are available for income-eligible customers. Those that fall within 60 percent of state median income should visit their local community action agency to sign up for the EAP. To apply for the EAP, customers should call 1-800-872-0371 to locate their nearest community action agency. For more information and to apply online, click here.

In Marion County alone, there are multiple avenues for help and advice.

The Marion County Energy Assistance Program application process is currently open for low-income households to maintain utility services during the winter heating season. This 2022-2023 program will include assistance with electric, heating, and water (when funding is available).

United Way of Central Indiana's Winter Assistance Fundhelps ensure hardworking families who need energy assistance the most can afford the increased costs of utility bills during the coldest winter months.

The program, which runs from November through May, is targeted to help Indianapolis residents who struggle to afford increased utility costs but don’t qualify for the government’s Low-Income Energy Assistance Program

Marion County residents can also call 2-1-1 if they are not sure of what/if they qualify for any kind of assistance during the winter months.

Asking for assistance is much safer than alternative heating methods such as space heaters or an oven.

The City of Indianapolis and the Indianapolis Fire Department remind residents to keep space heaters three feet from flammable items like furniture or blankets. Turn space heaters off when leaving a room or going to bed. Only purchase space heaters with an automatic shut-off and a guard around the heating source.

Do not use an oven or stove as an alternative heating source. Turning on burners and/or opening the oven door in order to heat a home can be dangerous and sometimes deadly.

Below is more information on further assistance for each utility company:

Citizens Energy Group projects its customers could see an $18 per month increase in their bills from November through March.

If customers are falling behind on their bill, they are urged to call Citizens at (317) 924-3311. In addition to grants from Warm Heart Warm Home, customers may be eligible to establish flexible payment arrangements to assist them in catching up on past due bills. Citizens also offers a budget plan to help manage utility costs and spread out payments.

CenterPoint Energy says customers can expect to pay on average $135 a month; that's up from $130 last year.

"CenterPoint Energy utilities are not allowed to markup, nor profit, from the purchase and sale of natural gas ... only gas costs actually incurred and approved by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission are recovered from customers," CenterPoint said in a news release. "CenterPoint Energy purchases natural gas on behalf of its customers and then passes those costs on to customers through the gas cost adjustment, which is listed on the bill as 'Gas Cost Charge.'”

CenterPoint has a free Budget Bill billing plan where estimated costs for a year of gas service are spread in equal monthly bill amounts for the year. Customers can enroll for free online or by calling 1-800-227-1376.

Due date extensions and payment arrangements are also available to customers in need of a special payment plan on a temporary basis in order to keep service connected and manage energy costs.

Duke Energy offers installment plans, due date extensions and other resources for customers needing help paying their bills. For information on those programs and the Energy Assistance Program, visit the Duke Energy website.

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Indiana Michigan Power's Neighbor to Neighbor Program provides a utility assistance grant to eligible customers. The grant is applied directly to the customer's bill.

Payment extensions and arrangements are also available. For more information go to the utility's website.