INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WEHT) – Governor Eric Holcomb has been requested by the Citizens Action Coalition (CAC) to extend the winter disconnection moratorium by at least three months.
CAC states that if the winter disconnection moratorium is not extended past the March 15 deadline, bill assistance will likely not be processed in time to prevent a significant amount of utility disconnections and resulting in households being unable to scrape together enough money to pay their utility bills.
“It would be unthinkable to disconnect consumers from an essential human service while they are awaiting the assistance they so desperately need,” said Kerwin Olson, Executive Director of CAC. “The Governor should act immediately and extend the winter disconnection moratorium to protect the most vulnerable among us and connect them with the funds available to them. All Hoosiers deserve to live in dignity and have access to essential services.”
CAC has also asked for Gov. Holcomb to create a Utility Affordability Task Force, with the goal of making sure that all Hoosiers have uninterrupted access to essential utility services and can remain in their own homes.
The CAC’s requests include requiring all utility service providers, both regulated and unregulated, to adopt more flexible credit and collection practices than are currently required by state regulations or, in the case of unregulated utilities, their self-governed, internal policies related to credit and collection practices.
The CAC also asks that the following consumer protections should include the following:
- Allow longer and flexible payment plans that are based on the customer’s ability to pay.
- Eliminate down payment requirements on payment plans.
- Eliminate any requirement that disconnected customers pay the full arrearage amount to reconnect.
- Prohibit utilities from imposing late fees and engaging in negative credit reporting.
- Eliminate minimum balance requirements for prepaid utility service customers.
- Eliminate any customer deposit requirements.
“We must begin a collaborative and transparent process with all stakeholders and relevant State agencies at the table. We must thoroughly review the reasons for the affordability crisis that Hoosier consumers currently face and discuss meaningful solutions that will lead to affordable monthly utility bills for all consumers,“ concluded Olson.