SW Indiana utility suspending disconnections through May 31

March 15, 2022 GMT

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) — A southwestern Indiana utility said Tuesday it will suspend customer disconnections through May 31 following an outcry over high gas bills over the winter.

CenterPoint Energy said in a news release that its move aims “to help customers needing payment assistance” and added that the company is “working on additional measures to assist customers.”

Natural gas prices have risen around the globe, partly due to supply issues, and a rate increase for Evansville area CenterPoint customers took effect in October.

Those rising costs have led to protests at local government meetings by members of the Facebook group Direct Action Against CenterPoint Energy, the Evansville Courier & Press reported.

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Those individuals pushed all nine Evansville City Council members to draft a letter last month encouraging CenterPoint to “set policies that provide more support and leniency for low-income and fixed-income customers.”

Kendall Foust, an advocate with DAACE, said that while group sees the disconnect pause as a positive for “captive ratepayers,” it doesn’t go far enough.

CenterPoint warned customers last year that natural gas bills could almost double this winter.

The utility measures natural gas usage through “therms,” or units of heat. In January 2021, customers who used 100 therms in a month paid an average of $74.65. By January 2022, that average cost had risen to $133.57, including distribution fees.