Between December 1 and March 15, natural gas utilities in Indiana do not disconnect service to LIHEAP customers who are delinquent on their home heating bills.
“This winter’s combination of mild temperatures and low natural gas prices helped keep bills relatively lower this year,” said Kim Ferrell, NIPSCO’s Business Office and Energy Assistance Manager. “But we know that some of our customers still experience difficulties paying their bill, and we remind anyone, regardless of their situation, that options may be available to assist them.”
There are several options available to offer utility bill assistance for households that are experiencing financial challenges, including:
Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) Program: 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). Applications for heating assistance are taken through May 13, 2016. Summer cooling assistance will run from June 6, 2016, through August 12, 2016.
NIPSCO Customer Assistance for Residential Energy (CARE) Discount Program: In addition to the assistance available through LIHEAP, the NIPSCO CARE Discount Program is designed to provide further bill reductions to LIHEAP-eligible customers. Once enrolled in LIHEAP, customers are automatically enrolled in the program, and reductions range from 11 to 26 percent, depending on the same criteria used by the state in determining the level of assistance. CARE discounts are available through May 31, 2016, or until funds are exhausted.
NIPSCO Hardship Program: For customers just outside the federal poverty guidelines for LIHEAP, the NIPSCO Hardship Program offers up to $400 in gas bill assistance to households between 151 and 200 percent of the federal poverty level. Hardship funds are available through many of the same local Community Action Agencies where LIHEAP funds are distributed and are available through May 31, 2016, or until funds are exhausted.
Township Trustees: A limited amount of energy assistance funds are available through local Township Trustee offices. Last year, approximately $1.2 million was distributed to help nearly 7,000 customers. NIPSCO customers are encouraged to contact their local Township Trustee to see what help is available.
Payment Arrangements: A NIPSCO credit agreement allows you to make an initial payment within five days of the agreement, then spread the remaining unpaid balance over three months, plus current bills as they are due.
For more information on billing options and payment assistance, visit NIPSCO.com/PaymentAssistance.
In addition to offering a number of payment assistance options, NIPSCO offers a number of energy-efficiency programs to help lower energy usage and bills.
Some of those programs this year include:
Rebates for Energy-Efficient Appliances/Equipment: Offers rebate checks to NIPSCO natural gas and electric customers who purchase and install qualified energy-efficient products — ranging from $50 for Smart Wi-Fi Thermostats to $500 for Geothermal Heat Pumps.
Cash for Old Fridges/Freezers: Offers a $50 incentive check to electric customers who recycle an old working refrigerator and/or freezer that is not needed.
Lighting Discounts: Instant lighting discounts on ENERGY STAR® –qualified LED and CFL lighting at participating retailers.
Home Weatherization for Income-Qualified Customers: Helps low-income families and individuals decrease home energy costs and become more attentive to energy-related health and safety issues in the home through the installation of several energy-efficiency measures.
Refrigerator Replacement for Income-Qualified Customers: Provides qualified customers with the replacement of an inefficient refrigerator with a new ENERGY STAR refrigerator at no cost to the customer.
Visit NIPSCO.com/SaveEnergy for more information on available energy-efficiency programs and other ways to save.