Looking for some help with paying for your heating bills this winter? Here are a few good programs to explore for the 2012 - 2013 winter heating season and beyond.
The HEAP Program, which provides a one-time credit on heating bills to eligible individuals, is taking applications between July 1, 2012 and May 31, 2013. In order for a household to be eligible for HEAP, the total household income has to be under 200% of the federal poverty level, based on the number of people living in the household. Click here for a current table of income limits. There are several options for completing your HEAP application. You may download or print a HEAP application by clicking here. Applications are also available at most libraries and other government buildings or by calling your local community action agency; click here to find the closest office. In addition, you can visit any Ohio Benefit Bank office to receive free help in completing your application. Click here to find the closest Ohio Benefit Bank office, or call 800-648-1176. Or, you can fill out your HEAP application online by clicking here. To check the status of your HEAP application after you have submitted it, click here, or call the HEAP Hotline at 1-800-282-0880.
The Winter Crisis (E-HEAP) program "provides assistance once per heating season to eligible households that are disconnected, threatened with disconnection, or have less than a 10-day supply of bulk fuel." Applications for the Winter Crisis Program will be accepted November 1st through March 31st. For information on the Winter Crisis Program in Ohio, including eligibility requirements, click here or call HEAP toll-free at (800) 282-0880 (7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday). To locate your local Emergency HEAP/Winter Crisis Program agency in Ohio, click here. Residents of Summit County should contact Akron Summit Community Action, Inc. at 330-376-7730.
The PIPP Plus Program has replaced the old Percentage of Income Payment Plan program (PIPP). PIPP Plus seeks to provide an affordable payment option for gas and electric service to low-income households. The new program offers some significant improvements over the old one. For instance, under the traditional PIPP program, if a consumer owed $100 on their gas or electric bill for the month, they might have to pay only $10 to retain service and avoid a shutoff, but the unpaid $90 balance would accrue as debt with the utility company. Under the new PIPP Plus program, if the consumer pays their PIPP Plus amount on time, the remainder of the bill is forgiven permanently. There are also opportunities for households with existing overdue balances to gradually have those balances forgiven if they make their PIPP Plus payments on time each month for a period of months. For more information on PIPP Plus programs, click here, or call HEAP toll-free at (800) 282-0880 (7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday). Returning PIPP Plus applicants must re-verify their income annually.
The Winter Reconnect Order helps those who are threatened with a gas or electric shutoff by allowing them to maintain service by making a $175 payment, regardless of the balance they owe. For more information, click here.
The Home Weatherization Assistance Program (HWAP), helps with making your home as energy efficient as possible by providing things like insulation or furnace repair and replacement. To learn more and see if you qualify for HWAP, click here.
The Dominion East Ohio Energyshare Program serves senior citizens age 60 and over as well as younger customers who have received a termination or shutoff notice. For more information, click here, or call (800) 362-7557.
There are several Extended Payment Plans available to all residential electricity and natural gas customers regardless of income.
The One-Third Plan (Winter Heating Season Plan) is
available from November 1st through April 15th and requires customers to pay one-third of their total account balance each month.
The One-Sixth Plan
requires customers to make six equal monthly payments on their past-due amounts,
in addition to their monthly budget payment.
The One-Ninth Plan
allows consumers to make nine equal monthly payments on their past-due
amounts in addition to their monthly budget payment.
Click here for more information, or call (800) 686-PUCO (7826).
Utility assistance for military personnel and their families through the Patriot Plan can be accessed by clicking here or calling (800) 686-PUCO (7826). Veterans can also request assistance with utility and other payments by contacting their local Veterans Service Commission. Summit County residents can click here for more information. To find offices in other Ohio counties, click here.
Individuals who reside in Summit County may also request utility assistance through the Salvation Army's social service helpline: (330) 996-4255 Funds are limited.
Individuals who live, work, or worship in Hudson can also call 330-650-4048 ext. 463 to talk with the Community Resource Coordinator, who can direct you to other utility assistance resources in the Hudson area, such as the Hudson Ministerial Association benevolence fund and the Hudson office of the Salvation Army.
Source: Ohio Department of Development and PUCO/Ohio.gov.