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Ohio Utility Bill Assistance

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Assistance is available for both gas and electric bills. The assistance may be in the form of a reduction of your heating bill and/or a set amount based on your income to be paid each month. Eligibility for these programs is usually based on household income.

Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) 

Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP) 

Winter Crisis Program 

Summer Crisis Program 

HeatShare Programs 

Extended Payment Plans 

Energy Assistance for Military Personnel and their Families

Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP)

What is HEAP?

HEAP is a federally funded program administered by the Ohio Department of Development (ODOD). It is designed to help eligible low-income Ohioans meet the high costs of home heating. HEAP pays a one-time payment for most PUCO-regulated utility customers reflecting their usage for the current winter heating season.

Who is eligible?

The total household income of an applicant must be at or below 175 percent of the 2008-09 federal poverty guidelines listed below:

Size of Household

Yearly Income Limit

Three Month Income Limit

1

up to $18,200

$4,500

2

$24,500

$6,125

3

$30,800

$7,700

4

$37,100

$9,275

5

$43,400

$10,850

6

$49,700

$12,425

For households with more than six members, add $6,300 per member for 12 months or $1,575 for three months.

How do I sign up?

Call (800) 282-0880, TDD (800) 686-1557 or write to P.O. Box 1240, Columbus, Ohio 43266-0583. HEAP applications may also be downloaded from the Ohio Department of Development Web site or picked up at community action agencies, post offices and libraries. Note: Each household should mail only one HEAP application.

Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP)

PIPP allows eligible customers to make affordable energy payments. PIPP actually has several programs: the Standard PIPP Program, the PIPP Balanced Payment Plan, Three Percent PIPP and the Arrearage Crediting Program. Please note that PIPP customers are not eligible to choose their own supplier; however all PIPP customers in their respective service territories are bid out as a class to competitive gas suppliers in order to achieve maximum savings.

Standard PIPP Program

The Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP) allows eligible customers to make lower energy payments. If you qualify, you can pay 10 percent of your gross monthly household income to the utility company providing your main heating source and five percent to the utility company providing your secondary heating source. You can choose to join PIPP for only one utility service. If the company provides both gas and electric services or if the customer has an all-electric home, the payment is 15 percent of the gross monthly income.

Who is eligible?

  • Your utility company must be regulated by the PUCO.
  • You must apply for all energy assistance for which you are eligible.
  • You must have a gross yearly household income at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level (see income eligibility chart below). If you are not eligible based on the 12-month “test,” you may qualify for PIPP based on your income for the most recent three months.

Size of Household

Yearly Income Limit

Three Month Income Limit

1

up to $15,600

$3,900

2

$21,000

$5,250

3

$26,400

$6,600

4

$31,800

$7,950

5

$37,200

$9,300

6

$42,600

$10,650

For households with more than six members, add $5,400 per member for 12 months or $1,350 for three months.

How do I sign up?

Contact your gas or electric company for specific details. The company may refer you to the local community action agency to enroll in PIPP. Proof of your gross monthly household income for the last three months will be required. The first PIPP payment is usually due at the time you enroll.

What do I need to do to stay on PIPP?

  • Make the required monthly payments;
  • Re-verify gross monthly household income a minimum of once every 12 months;
  • Reapply for all available energy assistance programs at least every 12 months;
  • Apply for weatherization if you are contacted by a utility or state agency representative.

When do I pay the PIPP amount or the current bill?

Electric Customers:

During the heating season, typically Nov. 1 through April 15, you pay the percentage of income payment. During the non-heating season, typically April 16 through Oct. 31, you pay your current bill or the PIPP amount, whichever is higher.

Gas Customers:

PIPP customers who use natural gas as the primary heating source will pay the 10 percent PIPP payment year-round.

An example of payment:

Mr. Jones has a $500 monthly household income. He would pay $50 per month (10 percent of his household income) year-round to the gas company. In the winter, Mr. Jones pays the electric company $25, (5 percent of his household income). However, in the summer, his electric bill may be higher than the $25. When this happens, he must pay the higher amount to stay on PIPP and to keep his electric service on.

What do I do if my service is disconnected for non-payment?

You would have to reapply for PIPP, pay any missed payments (default), and may have to pay a reconnection charge and/or a security deposit.

Can I participate in a natural gas choice program and a PIPP program at the same time?

Natural gas marketers, the companies that provide natural gas under choice programs, do not participate in the PIPP program. If you are participating in a choice program, and then become eligible for and participate in the PIPP program, your natural gas provider will automatically be switched to the local utility. If you were under a contract with the natural gas marketer, they can assess an early termination penalty when a customer switches to the PIPP program before the contract expires.

What if I want to discontinue PIPP?

You may request to be taken off the plan at any time. The company may require that this request be in writing. If you are no longer income eligible for PIPP, the company is required to place you on the Arrearage Crediting Program. You may find it convenient to remove yourself from PIPP prior to becoming income ineligible. In this instance, you will need to contact your utility company to make appropriate arrangements on the balance due.

PIPP Balanced Payment Plan (Electric Companies Only)

The PIPP Balanced Payment Plan is only offered by electric and combination utility companies. This plan provides an option of budgeting monthly electric bills so payments do not dramatically increase during the summer. The PIPP Balanced Payment Plan is based on winter PIPP payments and summer actual usage. Consult with your local utility company or Community Action Agency representatives at the time you enroll in PIPP for more details.

Three Percent PIPP

If your household is at or below 50 percent of the federal poverty level and the household uses electricity as its secondary source of heat, your household would pay 3 percent instead of 5 percent in the winter heating season only.

The PIPP Balanced Payment Plan and Three Percent PIPP payments are not available at Cleveland Electric Illuminating and Toledo Edison due to an existing low-income rate.

Size of Household

Yearly Income Limit

Three Month Income Limit

1

up to $5,200

$1300

2

$7,000

$1750

3

$8,800

$2,200

4

$10,600

$2,650

5

$12,400

$3,100

6

$14,200

$3,550

For households with more than six members, add $1,800 per member for 12 months or $450 for three months.

If you were a participant in this program in past years or are elderly and seeking energy assistance, please contact the Ohio Department of Development Office of Community Services at (800) 282-0880, TDD (800) 868-1557.

Arrearage Crediting Programs

Arrearage Crediting is available to PIPP customers who are no longer income eligible for PIPP. The Arrearage Crediting Program assists you with gradually paying off your total arrearage amount. Current and former PIPP customers should contact their local utility company for specific information on the rules and regulations of arrearage crediting. Following are the guidelines for the standard arrearage crediting program offered by AEP Ohio, Columbia Gas of Ohio Dominion East Ohio, Duke Energy Ohio and Ohio Edison:

  • You continue to pay your PIPP payment amount for the first 12 months after losing PIPP eligibility.
  • Beginning on the 13th month after losing PIPP eligibility, you stop paying your PIPP amount and start paying the amount due on your monthly bills for the next 12 months.
  • At the end of the second year off of PIPP, you pay your current bill plus an extra arrearage payment (not to exceed $20). This payment goes towards paying off the total arrearage amount due.
  • Once you begin paying the current bill and your arrearage payment, you will be eligible to receive matching credit equal to your arrearage payment. The utility company will determine how often this credit will be applied to your account. The arrearage credit from the company will be applied to your bills as long as the monthly bill is paid in a timely manner.

Cleveland Electric Illuminating, Dayton Power & Light, Vectren Energy Delivery of Ohio and Toledo Edison are excluded from this crediting system. However, all of these companies have crediting systems somewhat similar to the one described above.

Winter Crisis Program (formerly Emergency Energy Assistance Program or E-HEAP)

A special component of HEAP, the Winter Crisis Program, is administered by Community Action Agencies throughout Ohio. The Winter Crisis Program provides assistance once per heating season to eligible low-income households that are disconnected, threatened with disconnection, or have less than a ten-day supply of bulk fuel. For further information, contact your local community action agency.

Who is eligible?

The total household income of an applicant must be at or below 175 percent of the 2008-09 federal poverty guidelines listed below:

Size of Household

Yearly Income Limit

Three Month Income Limit

1

up to $18,200

$4,500

2

$24,500

$6,125

3

$30,800

$7,700

4

$37,100

$9,275

5

$43,400

$10,850

6

$49,700

$12,425

For households with more than six members, add $6,300 per member for 12 months or $1,575 for three months.

How do I sign up?

Applications for Emergency HEAP are accepted through March 31. Contact your local community action agency to sign up.

Summer Crisis Program

A special component of HEAP, the Summer Crisis Program provides summer cooling assistance for low-income elderly households and for Ohioans with qualifying medical conditions. The program applies to electric utilities only.

What are the benefits?

One-time payment assistance of up to $100 to be put towards:

  • Electric bill payment,
  • Air conditioning unit, or
  • Fan

Who is eligible?

  • You do not have to be enrolled in PIPP or have received a disconnection notice to be eligible for the Summer Crisis Program.
  • Households must have a gross annual income of 175 percent of the federal poverty level listed below and meet one of the following criteria:
    • Have a member of the household who is at least 60 years old; or
    • Provide physician documentation of medical necessity.

Size of Household

Yearly Income Limit

Three Month Income Limit

1

up to $18,200

$4,500

2

$24,500

$6,125

3

$30,800

$7,700

4

$37,100

$9,275

5

$43,400

$10,850

6

$49,700

$12,425

For households with more than six members, add $6,300 per member for 12 months or $1,575 for three months.

How do I sign up?

Applications for the Summer Crisis Program are accepted from July 1 through August 31. Contact your local community action agency to sign up.

HeatShare Programs

The HeatShare programs are programs administered by the Salvation Army to help qualifying households pay for natural gas bills. These programs typically run from January until May, or until funds are depleted. For more information about the HeatShare program or to receive assistance, please contact your local Salvation Army.

Columbia Gas of Ohio HeatShare Program

Customers of Columbia Gas of Ohio are eligible for the HeatShare program if they have an annual gross household income at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. Households experiencing unexpected financial hardships may also be eligible for the program, determined on a case-by-case basis. The HeatShare program provides Columbia customers with a one-time assistance grant of up to $250. Customers are only eligible for HeatShare once per year, and the assistance cannot be applied toward security deposits or bills that are not required to maintain service.

Dominion East Ohio EnergyShare Program

The Dominion East Ohio EnergyShare program is designed to provide fuel assistance to pay for any type of winter heating bill. To qualify for the program, customers must live within the Dominion service territory, must have a termination notice, and must have exhausted other resources for state and federal fuel assistance. Senior citizens age 60 and older do not need a termination notice to qualify. Applicants must also meet one of the following criteria:

  • Annual household income at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty guidelines;
  • Head of the household is unemployed; or
  • Have a demonstrated personal or family crisis.

EnergyShare can provide customers with assistance of up to $500 for heating bills and up to $250 for deposits. The funds cannot be used for unauthorized usage, bills older than one heating season, or unpaid balances from the previous heating season. To receive assistance, the applicant must have their name on the utility account or live at the listed residence. For more information, contact your local Salvation Army or Dominion East Ohio at (800) 362-7557.

Duke Energy Ohio HeatShare Fuel Fund

Eligibility for the Duke Energy Ohio HeatShare program is based upon need, and households must be subject to disconnection in order to qualify. Eligible customers can receive a one-time assistance payment of $300. For more information, contact the Salvation Army at (513) 721-0795.

Extended Payment Plans

PUCO-regulated gas and electric companies have the following extended payment plans available to allow you to make affordable payments and maintain service:

  • The One-Third Plan (Nov. 1 – April 15)
  • The One-Sixth Plan

The one-third, one-sixth and budget payment plans are available to all residential customers regardless of income. PIPP is only available for those customers who meet the income guidelines. For more information, contact your utility company or your local community action agency. You may also call the PUCO toll-free: Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., EST:

  • (800) 686-PUCO (7826) (voice)
  • (800) 686-1570 (TDD)

Some utility companies may offer other emergency assistance plans. For more information, please contact your utility company.

Energy Assistance for Military Personnel and their Families

The Patriot Plan, a program providing protections and benefits to military personnel and their families, can assist qualifying customers with maintaining utility service while serving on active duty. Under the plan, Ohio’s natural gas and electric utilities cannot disconnect the residential utility service of any military reservist or National Guardsman deployed on active duty for nonpayment.

Upon return from active duty, utility companies must offer customers a period of time equal to the length of their deployment to pay any arrearages that may have accumulated. Additional time may be requested by a customer if the amount in arrearages presents a hardship. Utility companies are also prohibited from charging any late payment fees or interest to qualifying customers during the period of deployment or the repayment period.

The Patriot Plan does not apply to career active-duty military personnel serving their regular tour of duty. For additional information regarding this benefit, contact your local utility company or the PUCO at (800) 686-PUCO (7826).

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