NIPSCO says customers will see an increase in heating bill costs this winter

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The cold temperatures that have moved into our area probably have you thinking about turning on the heat, if you haven't already.

NIPSCO says customers can expect to pay a little more this winter for natural gas.

That will mean about $7.50 more a month for the average customer.

From November to March, that will add up to about $38.

This is a projection, assuming usage and temperatures are normal.

NIPSCO says new gas rates were approved by the state this month.

The total winter bill is estimated to be close to $423.

“I don’t think $7 is really unreasonable, but for people that are on a fixed income, it can be difficult,” said Bonnie Dalton, NIPSCO customer.

Ingrid Simmons, Energy Assistance Director from Real Services, helps families having trouble paying their heating bills.

“The families who have gotten EAP before and where the $7.50 would make a difference, they would be already be applying for EAP anyway.”

Real Services assists nearly 10,000 families across five counties.

The service is a one-time payment to the utility company including NIPSCO.

“Folks still have to watch their spending towards the utility bills,” said Simmons. “They are still responsible for the bills, but at least they cannot be disconnected between December 1st and March 15th.”

To qualify for energy assistance, a household must be at or below 60 percent of Indiana's poverty line.

Simmons says changes to requirements this year will allow them to help more people.

“A household of one last year had to make below $1,500 a month, whereas this upcoming year, their income has to be below $1,900 a month,” said Simmons.

She says most people they help make less than half the limit.

“More of the households that we serve they have $750 in SSI a month,” said Simmons. “Imagine having to pay rent, utilities, medication and food with that.”

With more than 2,900 applications being sent to families, Simmons wants everyone to start applying now.

“Those can be returned now already, they don’t have to wait until November 1, even though we can’t notify the utilities until then,” said Simmons.

There is a chance the prices could be higher or lower than the current prediction. It would depend on how serious this winter is and how high the demand for natural gas is.

She urges people not to wait until they get a disconnect notice before applying for energy assistance.

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