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Bartlett supports measures to lower utility costs

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Last week, Senate Bill 247 passed out of the House after two amendments aimed at lowering the cost of utilities were struck down by the Republican supermajority. State Rep. John Bartlett (D-Indianapolis) proudly supported the amendments offered by State Rep. Cherrish Pryor (D-Indianapolis) that would have created a one-year freeze on utilities increasing rates and charging reconnection fees.

“Hoosiers cannot be expected to shell out more and more money each year to boost profits for large corporations,” Bartlett said. “Every single one of the major utility companies in the state filed for a rate increase last year. Households in Indiana are paying nearly twice the amount for necessities like electricity, gas and water than they were in the year 2000. 

“The Indiana General Assembly continues to pass legislation to help utility companies, but we have done very little to help our seniors pay for heat in the winter. I was proud to support the amendments offered by my colleague, State Rep. Cherrish Pryor, on the House floor last week that would provide relief from rising utility costs. A freeze on rate hikes and disconnection fees would allow Hoosiers to keep more of their hard-earned money and take a much-needed financial breather. 

“Residents are forced to pay fees for disconnections, even if the disconnection happened because of an error on behalf of the company. These punitive reconnection fees can cost up to $250. For those struggling to make ends meet, food or medication may have to be sacrificed to afford to turn the lights back on.

“Utility companies need to use the money they have collected from increasing rates to make things better for their rate payers. Not only better technology, but also burying power lines. Burying power lines minimizes power outages and eliminates the safety hazards of fallen utility poles and powerlines. Ratepayers should not be left on the hook for problems caused by outdated infrastructure.  

“If consumers are unhappy with the cost or service from their utility company, they have no option but to continue to pay. Unlike industries subject to rules of the free market, utilities in Indiana are a regulated monopoly. It is up to us as lawmakers to ensure Hoosiers are getting a fair deal. 

“I am deeply disappointed that the General Assembly decided not to pass these amendments. However, I will continue to fight to provide relief for my constituents and all Hoosiers, especially our seniors.”

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