- Resolving an Issue with a Utility or Filing a Complaint
The Commission’s Consumer Affairs Division provides dispute resolution services for individual customers of jurisdictional utilities. The types of issues handled by the Consumer Affairs Division include: extension of service and credit, deposits, billing, termination of service, customer rights, and utility responsibilities. Prior to initiating a complaint with our office, we strongly advise customers to first attempt to resolve the issue directly with the utility. Please note that, while the Commission accepts most utility-related complaints, the Commission only has authority as granted by statute, and certain utilities and issues may be outside of that authority.
Ways to file complaint a complaint with the Consumer Affairs Division:
- Complete an online complaint form
- Call the Consumer Affairs Division at 1-800-851-4268 during office hours, which are 8:15 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. (ET), Monday through Friday.
Office of Utility Consumer Counselor
The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) is the state government agency designated by statute to represent the interests of residential, commercial and industrial ratepayers in all cases before the Commission. The OUCC serves as the customers’ legal and technical representative, giving all Indiana customers a voice when decisions are being considered at the Commission that could affect utility rates and services.
The OUCC is staffed with attorneys, accountants, engineers and economists with expertise in utility regulation. The OUCC provides this service regardless of input from the public as part of the agency’s regular preparation for cases. The OUCC may be reached at 317-232-2494, toll-free at 1-888-441-2494, or by mail at 115 W. Washington St., Suite 1500 South, Indianapolis, Indiana 46204.
File a Formal Petition with the Commission
Members of the public who meet the requirements of Indiana Code section 8-1-2-54 may join together to file a formal complaint with the Commission against a public utility. Formal petitions filed with the Commission must also meet the requirements of the Commission’s rules of Practice & Procedure.
Furthermore, the Indiana Supreme Court Rules of Admission and Discipline (Rule 3) requires that attorneys practicing before the Commission be admitted to the Indiana Bar. A member of the Bar of another state or territory of the United States, or the District of Columbia, may appear before the Commission with a member of the Indiana Bar who has appeared and agreed to act as co-counsel. For a copy of the Admission and Discipline Rules, visit the Indiana Judicial System website.
For a list of attorneys who are members of the Utility Law Section of the Indiana Bar, please contact the Indiana State Bar Association at 317-639-5465.
- Rules and Regulations
What are my rights as a utility customer in the state of Indiana?
First and foremost, customers have the right to safe and reliable service. However, this does not guarantee continuous, uninterrupted service at all times. You also have the right to dispute a problem with your utility and expect that it will be handled in a fair and expeditious manner. For additional information regarding consumer rights, please visit the Indiana Administrative Code.
My service is scheduled to be disconnected, what should I do?
Call your utility immediately and ask if you are eligible to set up a payment arrangement, which is an agreed-upon payment schedule. If you are ineligible for an arrangement, ask about other options that may be available to you. If you are unable to reach an agreement with the utility, you may contact the Commission’s Consumer Affairs Division for assistance; however, we cannot guarantee any particular outcome.
Under what circumstances would I have to pay a deposit?
A utility may request a deposit from an existing customer if the customer has been mailed a disconnect notice two consecutive months or three times within a 12-month period. A deposit may also be requested if your services are disconnected for nonpayment and/or transferred to a new residence. Additionally, a utility may request a deposit from a new customer if the utility is unable to determine the creditworthiness of the applicant.
What is sub-billing?
A sub-bill, according to Indiana Administrative Code (170 IAC 15-1-8), is defined as “a landlord’s request of payment from a tenant for the distribution of water or sewage disposal service, which service is provided to the landlord by a public utility or municipally owned utility.”
If you believe you are being billed incorrectly through sub-billing, we will review billing history and information from the utility or owner and you as the affected customer, among other possible steps, in order to make a determination on whether or not the owner is charging customers correctly under the sub-billing statute (Indiana Code section 8-1-2-1.2).
What should I do if I think there is something wrong with my utility meter?
Call your utility and discuss your concerns. You have the right to request the utility to conduct a meter test and provide you the test results.
Is my utility allowed to estimate my usage?
Utilities may estimate your bill for good cause, which may consist of, but is not limited to, inclement weather, labor disputes, labor shortages, inaccessibility of a customer’s meter, and other circumstances beyond the control of the utility.
- Financial Assistance & Payment Arrangements
The Commission does not provide financial assistance to customers, nor does it oversee the implementation of such programs. Utility companies and other state agencies, however, may be able to offer assistance to Hoosiers in need.
How do I qualify for a payment arrangement?
It is not uncommon for customers to experience financial setbacks, which make it difficult to remain current with a utility bill. Utilities are willing to work with customers to avoid a loss of service, as well as the expense of a disconnection. However, customers must contact the utility prior to the date of disconnection. It is important to note that a utility is only required to offer a customer a payment arrangement once in any 12-month period. If a customer has a failed payment arrangement within the last 12 months, it is at the discretion of the utility whether or not to offer a subsequent payment arrangement.
Payment arrangements must be fulfilled to prevent an account from being subject to immediate disconnection. To fulfill an arrangement, generally the current charges and the payment arrangement amount must be paid and posted to the account on the date agreed upon with the utility. Bear in mind that the current charges and the payment arrangement may not be due on the same date. Any deviation from the arrangement without the consent of the utility may result in the immediate disconnection of service.
What programs are available to help me pay my utility bills?
There are many organizations, agencies, and charities willing to assist Hoosiers during their time of need. However, before contacting these entities, customers should contact their utility companies and explain their situation. Often, utilities will work with customers to set up payment arrangements so that customers can pay their bills on time and avoid disconnection.
If you are still having trouble making a full payment, it is important to know how much you can contribute toward your utility bills and convey that amount to the organizations or agencies you contact for assistance. Agencies and programs offering financial assistance include:
- Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program
- Indiana Community Action Association
- Lifeline and Link-Up
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
- Indiana Township Association
- United Way of Central Indiana
What is winter moratorium and who is protected by this law?
Winter moratorium is a period of time each year from December 1 through March 15 in which those individuals who have applied for benefits through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) may not have their heat source disconnected. It is important to note that these customers are still responsible for charges incurred during this time.
To apply for energy assistance in Indiana, please contact a Community Action Agency (CAA) near you. The CAAs are designated by federal regulation and under contract with the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority to serve as the local agencies responsible for administering the LIHEAP. There are 24 CAAs throughout Indiana that can take applications. The CAAs are also responsible for eligibility determination and timely payment to vendors.
What is Lifeline? How do I apply?
Lifeline provides qualified customers with a discount on monthly charges from their primary home phone line, even if it’s a cellphone. Lifeline lowers the cost that eligible customers pay for setting up new phone service at their home. This includes cell phone service. To apply, contact the telephone carrier of your choice and ask if the carrier participates in the Lifeline program. Some carriers may take an application over the phone while others may provide a paper application to be completed and submitted to the provider.
How can I connect with other social services in my area?
For a list of local organizations and charities in your area that may be in a position to help you, please visit Connect 2 Help's website or simply dial 2-1-1. This number will direct you to a network of information and referral services that enables anyone in need of human services in Indiana to have quick referrals to those service providers.
- Learn About Your Rates
How can I find out about pending cases before the Commission?
To see what base rate cases are currently pending before the Commission, click here. To access documents or filings related to a specific case, visit the Commission’s Online Services Portal. The Online Services Portal’s searchable database contains all documents in cases from 2001 to the present. Click here to access the Portal.
To search for a case, click the “Start” button under “Search for a Docketed Case.” When the next page opens, if you have the five-digit Cause Number, you may enter it into the field and click Search. In some instances, multiple cases may appear with the same docket number. These are subdockets. If you do not know the cases’ five-digit Case Number, there are other ways to find it. For example, you can select a petition type or the case’s status before the Commission. You can also enter in the name of the utility or dates related to the petition, order, or hearings. When you are finished entering the criteria, click “Search.”
What is the process for rate cases?
How can I participate in a case before the Commission?
The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) represents consumer interests in all cases before the Commission. There are multiple ways for customers to take part in these cases. Click here to learn more.
- Assistance from Other State Agencies
In addition to the Commission, there are other state agencies that oversee or assist with utility-related matters. Below is a list of these agencies and a brief description of the programs or functions they serve within state government.
Office of Utility Consumer Counselor
The Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC)is the state agency that represents utility ratepayer interests, including residential and business consumer interests) in cases before state and federal regulatory commissions.
The Commission and the OUCC are separate government agencies, with the Commission designated under Indiana law to make decisions in cases involving regulated public utilities and the OUCC serving as the customers’ legal and technical representative.
Office of the Indiana Attorney General
The Indiana Office of the Attorney General is charged with protecting the interests of all Hoosiers through two primary functions: legal services and consumer services. Additionally, its Telephone Privacy Division maintains, updates, and enforces Indiana’s telephone privacy list.
Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority
The Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority (IHCDA) helps communities build upon their assets to create places with ready access to opportunities, goods, and services. The agency also promotes, finances, and supports a broad range of housing solutions, from temporary shelters to homeownership, in addition to overseeing Indiana’s energy assistance program.
The state’s Energy Assistance Program (EAP) provides financial assistance to low-income households so that they can maintain utility services during the winter heating season. The program is implemented through the Community Action Agencies with outreach offices in every county. These agencies provide intake, application processing, and utility vendor payments.
Family and Social Services Administration
The Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) provides services to families who have issues associated with low income, mental illness, addiction, mental or physical disability, aging, and children who are at risk for healthy development. Its Division of Family Resources receives applications and approves eligibility for Medicaid, food stamps, TANF (cash assistance) and child care.