With the onset of colder weather in Northeast Ohio, several programs are offering financial assistance to customers who may have difficulty keeping up with the costs of their utilities.
Here’s an overview of programs to keep eligible customers from shivering inside their own homes:
Akron Summit Community Action Inc. will administer the Emergency Home Energy Assistance Program for the 2014-15 Winter Crisis Program under contract with the Ohio Development Services Agency. E-HEAP is a federally funded program designed to assist Summit County residents with their utility bills. During last winter’s season, 10,050 households in Summit County received emergency assistance and utility payments totaling $1,016,553.
Applications will be taken beginning Monday. Eligible Summit County residents can now call the toll-free appointment line at 866-504-7400.
For eligible clients, E-HEAP will:
•?Pay up to $175 for people whose utility service has been disconnected or needs to be transferred.
•?Pay up to $175 for people with a disconnection notice from their gas and/or electric utility company.
•?Pay up to $750 to fill a tank for people who have less than a 25 percent supply of bulk fuel.
New this year is the requirement for households with no income to provide an “IRS Tax Transcript” or a “Verification of Non-filing Letter” from the IRS prior to appointment. Documents can be obtained by phone, in writing or online by visiting www.irs.gov/Individuals/Get-Transcript. Call 800-908-9946 for assistance with IRS transcripts.
For a household of four, the three-month income must not exceed $8,658.13 or $34,632.50 for a 12-month income.
A household can apply for E-HEAP only once between Nov. 3 and March 31, 2015.
Extended walk-in service will be offered from Monday through Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. at the 670 W. Exchange Street office only. Walk-in scheduling is determined on a first-come, first-served basis to customers whose utility services are off, need transferred, need new service or those out of bulk fuel.
Monday-only walk-in service will resume Nov. 10. Customers with disconnection notices must call the toll-free E-HEAP appointment line at 866-504-7400 to schedule an appointment.
The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio has issued its annual Winter Reconnection Order, which allows any Dominion East Ohio residential customer to restore service or to avoid a shutoff between Oct. 20 and April 15, 2015, by paying $175. Under the order, customers, who have had service disconnected for nonpayment can have their service restored by paying the amount they owe Dominion, or $175, whichever is lower.
A reconnect fee of $33, plus applicable taxes, also will be billed to the account if the service has been disconnected.
There is no income eligibility requirement to use this program, and customers will be enrolled in a payment plan to help pay off any past-due balance. The reconnection plan can be used only once during the winter season by calling Dominion East Ohio at 800-362-7557.
Dominion customers can also call the utility to find out about its payment plans and energy assistance programs.
The Current-Plus Plan allows customers with a past-due balance to pay their current monthly bill plus one-sixth of the total account balance at the time they enroll in the plan.
The One-Third Winter Heating Plan allows customers to pay one-third of their total account balance each month for bills that include gas used from Saturday through April 15, 2015.