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Heating season bill payment help has begun

 

NIPSCO connects customers in need with assistance programs

Enrollment for federal assistance programs for low-income households began on Nov. 5 and NIPSCO is encouraging customers experiencing financial challenges to consider available payment assistance options for the winter heating season.

While higher usage amounts are probable this winter when compared to last year’s unseasonably warm temperatures, NIPSCO is focused on keeping gas prices affordable. For 11 consecutive months, the utility has offered the lowest residential gas bills in the state, according to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.

During the 2011-2012 winter heating season, 36,000 NIPSCO customers received help from the federal assistance program, compared to roughly 50,000 customers in previous years.

“Winter temperatures can be unpredictable in our service area, so helping our customers plan ahead for any potential bill payment challenges is important,” said Cindy Jackson, manager of residential consumer programs for NIPSCO. “We partner with local agencies across the state, such as Salvation Army chapters, to help customers in need apply for assistance.”

Low Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP)support is available to households falling within 150 percent of federal poverty guidelines, and is fully funded by a federal block grant offered through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  The level of assistance is based on several factors, including family size, income status and dwelling type.

Funds are administered by the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority (IHCDA) through Community Action Agencies with outreach offices in each county.

Between Dec. 1 and March 15, natural gas utilities in Indiana do not disconnect service to customers enrolled in LIHEAP who are delinquent on their home heating bills.

Eligibility information and a listing of agencies by county can be found at NIPSCO.com/Billing Payment and customers are encouraged to contact the agency for a complete list of required documentation ahead of visiting in person.