State Rep. Carolyn B. Jackson sends letter to IURC members urging them to protect utility customers

IBLC, News & Media, Member Featured

INDIANAPOLIS – Earlier this week, State Rep. Carolyn B. Jackson (D-Hammond) sent a letter to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC), asking them to refuse utility companies' request to let them charge ratepayers for bad debt and late fees amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“What Indiana should be doing with so many Hoosiers having not received unemployment assistance is protecting Hoosiers and consumers,” Jackson said.

“My suggestion is to extend the shutoff moratorium, put in place a freeze on rate increases, and extend the suspension of disconnection and late fees until this economic and health crisis has ended. I would also encourage the community to write the IURC and ask them not to approve a rate increase at this time.”

The text of the letter is pasted below:

 

May 13, 2020

To: Indiana Utility Regulation Commissioners Jim Huston, Chairman, Angela Weber, Sarah Freeman, Stefanie Kreva, David Ober and David E. Ziegner

Dear Commissioners:

I am writing to ask for your help in protecting the utility customers of Indiana.  Thousands of utility customers are suffering during this pandemic. I am upset to learn that utility companies are asking you to let them charge ratepayers for bad debt and late fees after the state temporarily banned shutoffs and late fees during this health crisis.  Utilities are asking the state to let customers pay arrearages over longer periods of time, which is fine. However, to establish bad debt trackers to collect bad debt expenses resulting from this pandemic is wrong.  I am sure this will also lead to another burden on customers in the future, with them being forced to pay a deposit to keep their services connected.

What Indiana should be doing with so many Hoosiers having not received unemployment assistance is protecting Hoosiers and consumers. My suggestion is to extend the shutoff moratorium, put in place a freeze on rate increases, and extend the suspension of disconnection and late fees until this economic and health crisis has ended.

There also need to be several studies: 1) A study to investigate how the pandemic will impact utility rates and overdue accounts.  2) An additional study to investigate how the Energy Assistance Program will affect utilities since this past Friday additional funds have been appropriated to help those individuals unable to meet their utility obligations. 3) Finally, an investigation into whether any part of the stimulus money received by the State of Indiana can be used to supplement the utility companies.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to your responses.

Sincerely,

Carolyn B. Jackson
State Representative
Indiana House District 1

Share Article