Duke Energy is one of several regulated utilities currently suspending disconnections due to COVID-19.
(Rebecca Thiele/IPB News)
Utility companies will soon be allowed to resume disconnections for unpaid bills. The state’s consumer advocate group is asking the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission to continue protections for people unemployed due to the COVID-19 crisis.
Among other things, the group wants the IURC to order utilities to continue suspending disconnections past June 4 — the date the governor’s moratorium on disconnections lifts.
“And also require utilities to waive deposits, reconnection fees, and late fees as another step to help protect consumers during this difficult time," says Anthony Swinger with the Office of the Utility Consumer Counselor.
Though these orders would only apply to regulated utilities, Swinger hopes rural, unregulated utilities will do the same to protect their customers.
The OUCC also wants the commission to look into how utilities can best recover money lost due to things like unpaid bills.
“Obviously, they will make the case for any cost increases that they may have incurred. We want to make sure that any decreases or savings are accounted for as well," Swinger says.
Swinger says that could include big projects that were put on hold or any state or federal assistance the utilities receive.
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Indiana Environmental reporting is supported by the Environmental Resilience Institute, an Indiana University Grand Challenge project developing Indiana-specific projections and informed responses to problems of environmental change.