Need help with winter heating costs?
There's good news for individuals and families seeking assistance with utility payments in Ohio. The new PIPP Plus program began November 1st, along with the Emergency Home Energy Assistance (E-HEAP) or "Winter Crisis Program".
PIPP Plus replaces the old Percentage of Income Payment Plan program (PIPP), which 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, click here.
The Winter Crisis (E-HEAP) program provides financial help once per heating season to eligible households who have experienced a shutoff or received a shutoff notice, or who have less than a 10-day supply of bulk fuel. Applications for the Winter Crisis Program will be accepted November 1, 2010 through March 31, 2011.
For information on the PIPP Plus and Winter Crisis Programs in Ohio, call HEAP toll-free at (800) 282-0880 (7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday). In order to apply for either or both of these programs, residents must contact their local authorized provider agency. New applicants must complete some paperwork; returning PIPP applicants must re-verify their income annually. To locate your local Emergency HEAP/Winter Crisis Program agency in Ohio, visit http://www.development.ohio.gov/community/ocs/locate.htm. Residents of Summit County should contact Akron Summit Community Action, Inc. at 330-376-7730. The line may be busy; you may need to call numerous times before you get through, but be persistent.
The Regular HEAP Program, which provides a one-time credit on heating bills to eligible individuals, is also taking applications between August 1, 2010 and May 31, 2011. Applications are available at most libraries and other government buildings, such as Hudson City Hall, or by calling your local community action agency. I can also help those who live, work, or worship in Hudson to complete this application online in my office through the Ohio Benefit Bank program.
There are a number of other helpful programs for assistance with home weatherization and furnace repair (HWAP, EPP), energy assistance for senior citizens, and the Winter Reconnect Order through the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. For more information on the programs mentioned in this post as well as other programs, visit this excellent website: Ohio Winter Heating Resource Center http://www.winterheat.ohio.gov.
For more information on this topic and other resources, please call, or visit the Community Resource Connections website at http://hudsoncrc.blogspot.com.
Kristin Keller, LSW, Community Resource Coordinator, Hudson Ministerial Association/Laurel Lake