COLUMBUS: Officials in central Ohio say they expect to see a large number of applicants for emergency heating assistance programs this winter.

The Columbus Dispatch reports last year’s brutal winter may mean some Ohioans are already behind on heating bills as temperatures drop this fall.

A spokeswoman with a Columbus-area administrator for the Home Energy Assistance Program says shut-offs and termination notices in Franklin County are already higher than normal.

The Winter Crisis Program within the Home Energy Assistance Program offers a one-time payment for Ohio households with gross incomes at or below 175 percent of the federal poverty level, which can help restore utility service or delay shut-offs.

The newspaper reports nearly 150,000 households were aided by the program last winter, and officials anticipate large numbers again this year.