Appointments taken now for heating assistance

Residents who may need assistance paying their heating bills may make an appointment now to file that application.

The 2012-13 Emergency Home Energy Assistance Program (EHEAP) begins Nov. 1. Appointments to apply for assistance with heating bills are being accepted now at the WSOS offices. The program runs through March 31, 2013.

This year’s program remains the same as last year’s with the income limits the same as last year and the amount of assistance per household the same as last year - $750 for those who use propane and up to $450 depending on heating source for others.

EHEAP provides emergency assistance to income-eligible residents to help them maintain their heating source by making a one-time payment of their heating bills. To receive assistance, a household must meet the income guidelines and have received a disconnect notice or have less than a 10-day supply of bulk fuel. Income-eligible residents are those with incomes up to 200 percent of the federal poverty income guidelines, which amounts to $30,260 for a two-person household or $46,100 for a four-person household.

Currently Columbia Gas is conducting a program for its customers in partnership with WSOS. This means that residents who are Columbia Gas customers can get help with
their bills through the Columbia Gas program and EHEAP. WSOS will also enroll eligible applicants in the PIPP Plus program.

PIPP Plus targets customers of most heating utility companies, except for small companies, who are at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. Gas and electric customers will pay no more than $10 or six percent, whichever is greater, of their gross monthly household income each month. Those households that are entirely electric
will pay $10 or 10 percent, whichever is greater. This payment is to be made each month for the entire year. Once payments are on time and paid in full, the customer no long owes the rest of that month’s billed amount, and payments made on time and in full for 24 straight months means all arrearages will be eliminated.

Customers will be dropped from the program if they miss payments or do not re-verify their income each year. At the time of re-verification, the customer will have one billing cycle to make up any missed payments. If that does not happen, the customer will be dropped and the entire debt will be due immediately. Also, customers must notify the company if their income changes and they become ineligible for the program. EHEAP can pay only up to $175 for those PIPP Plus customers who are dropped from the program.

Households that do not have an emergency may receive assistance with heating bills from regular Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP). This program provides a one-time per heating season assistance. Applicants must file their own applications. WSOS can provide the applications and assist applicants with the forms. HEAP operates until March 31, 2012.

Call 1-888-441-4327 for an appointment for EHEAP assistance.

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