By Toby Thomas, President and Chief Operating Officer, Indiana Michigan Power—
Muncie, IN—Virtually all Hoosiers and all Indiana businesses have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused unprecedented, widespread financial difficulties.
Indiana Michigan Power has been working with our customers regarding their energy bills since the early days of the pandemic in mid-March. We have consistently encouraged our customers who believe they may have trouble paying their bill to discuss payment plans. We have informed them of other assistance such as the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LiHEAP).
Clearly, there is no one answer for customers who have lost income due to no fault of their own. More options offer more ways customers can keep up.
To help our valued customers, I&M is providing an additional $175,000 to our Neighbor-to-Neighbor Program and temporarily expanding guidelines so more customers can benefit.
To qualify, and to make sure the customers most in need have the best ability to receive assistance, customers must meet income guidelines and have a past due bill. From now through December, I&M is raising the income eligibility for customers from 200% of the Federal Poverty Level to 250%. A family of four may qualify if they earn below $65,500 per year, or $5,458 per month. In addition, the maximum grant to a family will increase from the current $250 to $350.
I&M has arranged for a number of Indiana Community Action Programs – including Brightpoint in northeast Indiana – and the Muncie Mission in Delaware County – to accept applications for the program. A full list of agencies by county and their telephone numbers are available at IndianaMichiganPower.com/Neighbor
As part of this unique program, Hoosier residents and businesses can join us in helping those in need through our Neighbor to Neighbor Program. Customers can make a one-time contribution; make a level monthly contribution; or “round up” their bill to the next whole dollar, with the excess going toward the Neighbor to Neighbor Program fund. For example, if a customer’s bill is $94.25, the customer can choose to pay $95, with a donation of 75 cents going to Neighbor to Neighbor.
I&M launched the Neighbor to Neighbor Program with a $50,000 company contribution, and customers have added to the fund with contributions of more than $48,500. Neighbor to Neighbor has helped pay the bills for more than 350 customers since April 2019.
As always, all I&M customers who are having difficulty paying their bills are encouraged to contact I&M to discuss payment options. Customers can contact us at 1-888-710-4237; on the Indiana Michigan Power Facebook page; on twitter, @IN_MI_Power; and at IndianaMichiganPower.com/Assistance.
During the uncertain times, we have seen countless examples of people pulling together to help our fellow Hoosiers. I&M thanks all of our customers who are helping their neighbors, and we join them with this significant contribution to the cause.