AES Indiana could increase its prices by almost 19% for three months in the fall, and some struggling customers are worried they won’t have a way to pay.
An AES spokesperson said the price increase comes from an increase in natural gas prices. Natural gas prices are expected to be 288% higher in September, October and November this year as compared to last year, AES said in a statement. The average customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours per month will pay $24.39 more.
Other states are also seeing price increases due to high costs and “market events,” AES said.
“AES Indiana maintains its commitment to reliably serve our customers with the least reasonable cost options today and into the future,” the company said in a statement.
The increase has to be approved by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. An evidentiary hearing will be held Aug. 11.
Jacqueline Ardon raises her 11-year-old grandson Prince with her husband Carlos.
“It’s Prince Josiah out of the Bible,” she said. “That’s Josiah who was a very brave and nice and kind prince.”
The Ardons have had custody of their grandson since he was a newborn, she said. The biggest challenge of raising him for the past 11 years: the mood swings of a neurodivergent pre-teen, his never-ending hyperness, having to say no to a WWE toy at the grocery store to put food on the table or keep the lights on.
Their household is on a fixed income, she said, and receives social security. Both Ardon and her grandson have asthma, and extreme heat could cause an asthma attack. When the pandemic hit, their economic hardships became tougher when the entire household came down with COVID-19 and they lost other loved ones due to the pandemic. Exhausting both their checking and savings accounts, they struggled and got behind on their bills, Ardon said.
“There’s just so much going on in life in general and people are struggling,” Ardon said. “It takes a toll on people.”
The stimulus check helped them catch up, but it wasn’t enough to get them ahead. Now through inflation and economic consequences of a possible recession, it’s even more difficult to stay ahead, she said.
“It’s like after one crisis, another one hits,” Ardon said.
Local faith-based organizations and community organizations, such as the John Boner Neighborhood Centers, have helped local residents like Ardon with utilities.
The Energy Assistance Program was created to help low-income residents pay for electricity and heating, said Carla James, the center’s director of basic needs and systems integrations. Indiana households that make 60% or less than the state median income may qualify; applications open in October.
James said the center has seen more people applying who need assistance with a 22% increase in applications since last year. James said she “has no doubt” that the price increase will impact the amount of applications the center sees.
Ardon said she hopes to see more investment in local community organizations to help people pay their bills.
With the price increase, Ardon said all she can do is “continue struggling” and continue a budget plan.
“We take it day by day,” she said, trying to do what’s best for her grandson. “We’re sure all we can do is support him and do the best we can with the struggles we’re going through.”
Contact staff writer Jayden Kennett at 317-762-7847 or email at email@example.com. Follow her on twitter @JournoJay.
WAYS TO PAY
Contact your local trustee’s office and ask about their utility assistance programs.
Applications for the John Boner Neighborhood Centers Energy Assistance Programs open Oct. 1. You can apply online at indyeap.org or pick up an application at the center, 2236 E. 10th St.
Apply for a one-time grant through AES Power of Change fund. Apply online at easindiana.com or visit one of its partner agencies to apply:
• Address: 3266 N. Meridian St., Suite 100
• Phone: 317-396-1800
Christamore House Family and Community Center
• Address: 502 N. Tremont St.
• Phone: 317-635-7211
Fay Biccard Glick Neighborhood Center at Crooked Creek
• Address: 2990 W. 71st St.
• Phone: 317-293-2600
Southeast Community Services
• Address: 901 Shelby St.
• Phone: 317-236-7400