Woman’s gas turned back on following two days with no heat

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - This is no time to be living without heat, but one woman told CBS4 that Citizens Energy cut off her gas even though she believes she should've been protected under an Indiana law.

When we walked into Charity Nelson's north side home we could feel her pain.

"Last night it got down to about 50 degrees," she said.

Her windows were taped up and she even turned the dishwasher on so hot steam blows into the kitchen-- anything to keep her warm.

"What else am I supposed to do?"

Nelson had been living without heat for two days. Citizens Energy, she said, turned off her gas when she couldn't pay her bill.

However, she believes she should've been protected under a state moratorium which states "...during the period from December 1 through March 15 of any year, a utility company may not turn off residential utility service to any customer who is eligible for and who has applied for the Energy Assistance Program (EAP)."

Nelson had applied for the EAP in November of 2016.

But every time she called Citizens, she said, she got the same answer.

"Two different reps told me that there were no laws against turning off utilities in the winter.”

CBS4 contacted Citizens Energy and about 30 minutes later, they alerted us that Nelson's gas was being turned back on.

A spokeswoman for the utility sent us a statement which reads in part:

“…We restored the customer’s service today as soon as we were made aware that she applied for help from the state Energy Assistance Program. Also, we have reviewed our interactions with her and determined that our customer services representatives followed protocol and handled the situation appropriately each time.”

We turned to the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority, which handles applications for the EAP.  A spokesman for the state agency told us they did receive Nelson's application, but it was incomplete and the agency wasn't sure if she was eligible for the program.

Nelson disagrees. She said she handed in all the correct information in November and handed over that same information again this week.

"It's just so odd," she told us. "What happened there? Why was I not protected?"

Nelson is glad everything got worked out and her heat was turned back on before the temperatures fell even more.

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