Call your utility companies

If you believe you won't be able to pay your utility bills, especially during the winter, call your utility company.

A sales representative can work with you to present your options for reducing payments.

For example, a customer could get onto the budget plan, which averages out the home's utility bill for the year and can cut heating bills significantly during winter months, Duke Energy spokesman Lou Middleton said.

Another option is to spread out any delinquent amount owed over a few months to allow the person to catch up, he said.

At Vectren, a customer could spread a $200 bill out over three months or even six months, helping them get through the winter when bills are highest, spokeswoman Chase Kelley said.

A sales representative could help people defer or reduce their payments when they are facing tough times, Johnson County REMC President Chet Aubin said.

Most utilities also work with local organizations or a federal program to provide financial assistance to people who can't afford their bills. Those assistance programs often are based on income levels and require applications.

But people should call before their bill is late. If people wait until their bill is delinquent, that limits the options utility companies have to work with them, Middleton said.

That allows two months of bills, plus late fees and a disconnect notice to pile up, Kelley said.

"We do understand that Hoosiers are struggling to pay, but at the same time we don't know your situation, so you need to contact us," she said.

To call your utility company for assistance, call:

  • Vectren: (800) 227-1376
  • Duke Energy: (800) 343-3525
  • Johnson County REMC: 736-6174

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