AES Indiana, one of the Indiana's big five investor-owned utility companies, logged the states top residential disconnection rate in data from an Indiana University dashboard launched Friday.
A dozen researchers with the university's Energy Justice Lab and several others spent about two years creating the dashboard, which includes electricity and natural gas shut-off data for more than 330 utilities in 42 states and the District of Columbia. It also offers information on local policy.
Advocates emphasized that utility service can be a life-or-death issue for low-income Americans.
Jacqueline Patterson of the Chisholm Legacy Project recounted the 2018 case of a New Jersey grandmother with congestive heart failure, reliant on an oxygen machine to breathe, who died after utility PSE&G cut her electricity. She'd been behind on bills, but her family said it had paid the debt days before the shut-off.
Patterson said Linda Daniels was paying the price of poverty with her life paying the price of missing a couple of $60 bills.
Those behind the dashboard said they hope the data would be used for good.
"This is meant to be a tool, a public good out there for everyone's use, whether you're advocates or researchers or government officials, and we have every intention on making this better and better as we go in the future," said lab Co-Director David Konisky at a virtual kick-off. He is a professor at IU's O'Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs
"Where the data exists, knowledge exists, right?" said lab Co-Director Sanya Carley, also an O'Neill professor. This is providing useful knowledge for being able to dissect this issue. We're hopeful that more data can come in.