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Property manager says Citizens is slow to hook up water, gas; utility notes open appointments

Property manager comes to I-Team 8 for help

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A newly remodeled house on East 34th Street is one of 250 units managed by Jennifer Rice.

She says she started calling Citizens Energy Group nearly a month ago to get the water turned on, although a spokesperson for Citizens says that is not the case.

However, just minutes before I-Team 8 showed up, the water was turned on.

Rice says service connection times really slowed down in 2020 and have steadily gotten worse. “I have heard some things from the customer service reps: not enough staff, which is understandable, not enough skilled labor, and possibly some people don’t want to work in dangerous areas of Indianapolis.”

The property manager says she oversees places in several of the counties surrounding Indianapolis, and the wait times for water there are significantly shorter.

As of Friday, she says, new tenants at five houses in Indianapolis were waiting for water or gas service.

Rice said, “One of the top things a resident needs is water. I mean, even the Marion County health department would agree you can’t go without hot water, and part of our leases and things that are required would be water, so if there is a water main break outside and Citizens can’t get to it for days, which has happened, then it is really a public crisis.”

She added, “It is very disappointing because the residents here have no choice. If you live in Marion County, you have no choice. You have to use Citizens. It is a monopoly, and Indiana allows that.” 

I-Team 8 took Rice’s concerns to Citizens Energy Group spokesperson Benjamin Easley, who sent a statement.

“Without additional info on the specific location/housing community, Citizens can’t know for sure to what issue the landlord is referring. 

“We are not aware of any apartment complexes having any issues getting service, and we have not noted any recent issues from landlords.

“Citizens is not experiencing staffing issues that would prevent us from turning on service. In fact, we have open appointments this weekend.

“At all times throughout the year, Citizens asks customers to provide as much lead time as possible when requesting reconnection of utility service.

“As always, Citizens works to complete connection/reconnection orders for customers as quickly and safely as possible.”

Citizens Energy Group spokesperson Benjamin Easley