City utilities not disconnecting customers for nonpayment, for now

COLUMBUS, Ind. — Columbus City Utilities is choosing not to disconnect customers, despite the state moratorium preventing shutoffs expiring.

While the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission has chosen not to extend the state’s moratorium on disconnections past Aug. 14, the utilities department will not be disconnecting customers at present, said Arron O’Neal, city utilities manager of finance and business operations.

“We want to be a partner in the community and realize there’s still many residents and businesses struggling during this time and having financial hardships,” he said.

One of IURC’s orders is that the utilities must offer payment extensions for all delinquent customers, regardless of their customer class. These extensions must be a minimum of six months. O’Neal said Columbus City Utilities will offer a standard six-month payment plan, as well as nine-month plans and 12-month plans considered on a case-by-case basis.

He said that the department is making every effort to reach out to delinquent customers about these plans.

“We’ve done emails, phone calls,” he said. “We’re putting it on the website. … We have also put it on every single customer’s bill that if they need assistance, to reach out to us. We have an online form that they can fill out and submit to us. They can call us. They can come to our office. So we’re trying to be as transparent with all of our customers to give them a chance to get on the payment plans.”

The current deadline to sign up for a payment plan is Oct. 30, but it’s possible that the IURC or the governor’s office may choose to push that date back.

For more on this story, see Tuesday’s Republic.