Hoosiers are facing a tough winter. The COVID-19 pandemic is raging, with the state hovering near recent highs for cases and hospitalizations. The economic fallout from the pandemic also persists.
Small businesses are struggling to stay open and unemployment rates remain high. The long-awaited relief from Congress will help, but people throughout the state are having a tough time making ends meet.
For many Hoosiers, material hardship makes it impossible to afford critical energy services, such as electricity to keep their lights on and natural gas to keep their homes warm.
People unable to pay their utility bills face the possibility of utility service disconnection. With the weather turning colder, and many long months of winter ahead, this could not come at a worse time. To protect Indiana residents, Gov. Eric Holcomb should immediately reinstate the emergency moratorium on utility disconnections, which expired Aug. 14.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been documenting the prevalence of energy insecurity—defined as the inability to afford needed energy—across the United States and in Indiana.
Through a series of surveys of low-income households (specifically, about 2,000 people with household incomes within 200 percent of the federal poverty line), our work shows that energy insecurity is both widespread, and getting worse as the pandemic drags on.