For the 28th consecutive year, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) has ordered Ohio electric and natural gas utilities to reconnect or maintain service for customers who have been disconnected or are facing disconnection this winter.
Last winter heating season, more than 316,000 Ohio utility customers used the PUCO’s winter reconnect program.
“Through programs like the PUCO’s winter reconnect order, families and individuals experiencing hardship can have a sense of assurance knowing their heating service can be maintained or reconnected through these upcoming winter months,” PUCO Chairman Todd A. Snitchler said.
Under the program, customers who are dealing with disconnection can have their service restored or maintained if they pay the amount owed or $175, whichever is less, plus a service reconnection fee of no more than $36. Customers can use the program once during the winter heating season, between Oct. 15 and April 15.
There is no income eligibility guideline, but the plan requires customers to sign up for a payment plan for any remaining balance on their utility bill. Eligible customers may apply payments from the Emergency Home Energy Assistance Program toward the $175.
If a utility’s reconnection fee is greater than $36, the utility may bill the balance to the customer the following month.
Income-eligible customers who are interested in re- enrolling or maintaining participation in the Percentage of Income Payment Plan Plus (PIPP Plus) or Graduate PIPP Plus programs will be required to pay the balance of any missing PIPP Plus or Graduate PIPP Plus payments over $175 before the due date of their next bill.
The winter reconnect program also applies to customers seeking new service. Customers requesting new natural gas or electric service who have no outstanding balance with the utility may establish new service by paying $175, rather than the required security deposit. Customers who use the winter reconnect program to establish new service may have the balance of the required security deposit added to their next month’s bill.
Customers who have questions about the PUCO winter reconnect program may call 800-686-7826.