Community Action of Ashtabula  
 

Energy Assistance

Community Action has several different programs that make up the Energy Assistance Program.  Energy assistance can provide the residents of Ashtabula County with help paying their utility bills.  The assistance that is available if primarily for gas, bulk fuel or electricity, but sometimes assistance may be available for other utilities.

Energy Assistance Program assistance may either be in the form of a payment toward a current monthly bill and or setting up a plan that allows just a set amount to be paid each month based on the household income. Eligibility for these programs is usually based on the total household income.  Typically, the goal of the Energy Assistance Program is to secure continued utility service for the next thirty days, whether it is for heating in the winter or cooling in the summer.

Some of the Programs available are: HEAP, Winter Crisis Program, Summer Crisis Program, PIPP Plus, EFSP (when funding is available) and Utility Company Fuel Funds (when funding is available).

What is HEAP?

HEAP is a federally funded program administered by the Ohio Department of Development, and is designed to help eligible low-income Ohioans meet the high costs of home heating.  To be eligible for this program, the total household income must meet income eligibility guidelines.  HEAP, formerly known as “Regular HEAP”, pays a one-time payment for most PUCO regulated utility customers reflecting their usage for the current winter heating season as well as a credit to a bulk fuel company toward the purchase of heating oil, propane, kerosene, wood or coal. The program runs yearly from June 1st to May 31st.  Applications for this program are available:

  • Mailed out yearly to the previous year’s recipients
  • At the Community Action Office, 2009 W Prospect Rd, Ashtabula, OH
  • At local Post Offices and Libraries
  • By call the Ohio Department of Development at (800) 282-0880
  • Writing to ODOD, PO Box 1240, Columbus, OH 43266-0583
  • Online from the ODOD website

What is the Winter Crisis Program?

The Winter Crisis Program (WCP) was formerly known as “Emergency HEAP.”  It was created to provide a onetime per heating season financial assistance to benefit to low-income households that:

  • Are threatened with disconnection of their heating source
  • Have already had service disconnected
  • Need to establish new service or pay a transfer of service charge
  • Have 25% or less of the fuel capacity of their tank

The WCP Program typically starts November 1st to and runs until March 31st or until funding is depleted. As with the HEAP Programs, this funding is available to households with a total household income that meets income eligibility guidelines.

What is the Summer Crisis Program?

The Summer Crisis Program is a special component of HEAP and it provides summer cooling assistance for low income elderly households and for Ohioans with qualifying medical conditions.  This program applies to electric utilities only and usually runs from July 1st through August 31st or until funding is exhausted, whichever comes first.  The program provides a one-time payment up to $175 that can be put toward:

  • Electric bill Payment or
  • Air Conditioning Unit

What is the PIPP Plus Program?

PIPP Plus is known as the Percentage of Income Payment Plan.  PIPP Plus allows eligible households to make affordable monthly energy payments on a year-round basis. When the household pays its monthly PIPP Plus payment on time and in-full, some of their old debt as well as the rest of the current month’s bill goes away in the form of a credit on their utility account.

Who is eligible for PIPP Plus?

  • Your utility company must be regulated by the PUCO
  • If you are not with the Illuminating Company, Ohio Edison or Dominion East Ohio Gas, you will need to contact your utility company to see what plans they offer
  • You must apply for all energy assistance for which you are eligible
  • Your gross yearly income must be at or below 150% of the federal poverty guidelines

What will my monthly PIPP Plus payment be?

  • Electric and Natural gas customers will pay $10 or 6% of their gross monthly household income whichever is greater each month
  • Your fist payment is due when you enroll in PIPP Plus
  • If you are unable to make you first payment, you must contact the utility to make installment arrangements

What are the benefits of PIPP Plus?

When a customer pays the PIPP Plus payment on time and in-full they will earn an incentive credit and an arrearage credit.

  • You will only be responsible for the PIPP Plus payment amount, you will not be responsible for the remainder of that month’s charges
  • You will also receive 1/24 credit toward any old debt
  • If you make full, on time payments for 24 straight months, all of your arrearages will be eliminated

What do I need to do to stay on PIPP Plus?

Natural Gas requires you to provide proof your income every 12 months. If you owe any back payments over the last 12 months, you must pay them at this time. You will have one billing cycle to make up the missed payments or you will be removed from PIPP Plus and your entire balance will become due. If you are experiencing payment issues, you will need to contact your utility to see if the will offer you an extended payment plan. Please remember to look at your monthly bill since it now shows the re-enrollment date and the anniversary date associated with you PIPP Plus account. A gas customer has 30 days from their anniversary date to make up any missed payments, or the customer will be removed from PIPP Plus.

Electric utilities require PIPP Plus customers to provide proof of gross income at least every 12 months. If you do not do this, you will be removed from PIPP Plus and your entire balance will become due. At that time, your utility may provide you an extended payment plan to help you avoid disconnection. Please remember at any time that a customer misses two consecutive installments, the electric utility may drop them from the PIPP Plus plan and their entire bill will be due.

What is EFSP?

Ashtabula County Community Action receives Emergency Food and Shelter Program funds through FEMA to provide utility assistance to area individuals or households. When available, these funds can assist with regulated gas and electric utilities, partial bulk fuel payments, as well as one month assistance with water and sewer payments. In many cases a co=pay is necessary from the customer to pay the complete bill. A customer must have exhausted all other resources such as WCP, SCP and HEAP before applying for EFSP. Appointments are necessary and will normally be provided by calling 2-1-1.  Funding for this program varies throughout the year and is on a first come first serve basis.  Please watch this site for availability.

What are Utility Company Fuel Funds?

Utility Company Fuels Funds are mini energy assistance programs.  Funding for these programs is always restricted by need.  Utility Company Fuel Funds are not always available and are actually only available as funding becomes available.  To find out if one of the Utility Company Fuel Funds is available, you may call (440) 997-5957 and speak with someone from the Energy Assistance team.

Who is eligible for Energy Assistance?

Energy Assistance Programs are income eligibility programs.  Each program may have its own level of income that needs to be met in order to qualify.  There may also be additional eligibility criteria.  People interested in receiving Energy Assistance Program benefits can call either the office at (440) 997-5957 or 2-1-1 Ashtabula County by dialing 2-1-1 for information related to the program eligibility.

How can I schedule an appointment for Energy Assistance?

  • To schedule an Appointment November 1st through March 31st at the Community Action Office call the toll-free automated phone line
    • (866) 223-1471
  • Home Visit appointments can also be scheduled by calling (866)223-1471

What can I do if I am facing a critical situation with my utilities such as a pending disconnection?

  • If the household is in critical need, we also have Walk-In appointments during the WCP Season (November 1st - March 31st).  Walk-In appointments are seen at Job Source, 2247 Lake Avenue, Ashtabula, Ohio. Walk-In appointments are held daily from 8AM to 3:30PM. Walk-In appointments are accommodated on a first come, first served basis as time permits.

What documentation do I need to complete an Energy Assistance application?

  • Photo ID
  • Social Security Cards for all household members
  • If renting: your landlord’s name, address, phone number and monthly rent
  • All pages of your current electric and gas bill
  • For HEAP and WCP please provide your Bulk Fuel supplier’s name and account number
    • Proper Income Documentation:
    • Payroll stubs for the past 3 months or 12 months if necessary
    • Statement of Unemployment Benefits
    • Workers’ Compensation Benefits
    • Social Security Award Letter (most recent)
    • Social Security Disability Award Letter
    • Supplemental Security Award Letter (most recent)
    • VA Pension Award Letter
    • Railroad Pension Award Letter
    • Most Recent History of payments from Child Support Enforcement
    • Payment History from OWF, ADC-U, GR, or GA
  • Utility Award Check Stubs

 

 

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