Ohio Consumers' Counsel Issues Consumer Alert: Natural Gas Assistance Dollars Still Available

Apr 11, 2001, 01:00 ET from Ohio Consumers' Counsel

    COLUMBUS, Ohio, April 11 /PRNewswire/ -- With the recent warm weather,
 some natural gas customers may not remember that payment assistance is still
 available to help with the winter season's high natural gas bills. The Ohio
 Consumers' Counsel (OCC), the residential utility advocate, reminds consumers
 that state government and local utility companies have numerous programs
 available to help families pay natural gas bills.  Several important deadlines
 are approaching and consumers are encouraged to find out immediately if they
 meet eligibility criteria to receive assistance.
     "Eligible natural gas customers may be able to receive substantial
 assistance from important programs administered by state government and local
 utilities," said Consumers' Counsel Robert S. Tongren.  "The Ohio Consumers'
 Counsel and the administrators of these programs can provide detailed
 information to help them receive assistance."  Tongren noted that programs
 still have money available, but much is on a first-come, first-served basis
 for eligible applicants.
     Specifically, important programs include HEAP (Home Energy Assistance
 Program), Project THAW (Temporary Heating Assistance for Warmth), PIPP
 (Percentage of Income Payment Plan) and several local utility funds available
 to those in need.
     HEAP is a federally funded program designed to help low-income consumers
 at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty guideline pay for heating
 costs.  There are two parts of the HEAP program.  Regular HEAP is administered
 by the Ohio Department of Development and can provide customers with financial
 assistance.  The application deadline is April 30.  The toll-free number for
 HEAP application information is 1-800-282-0880.
     Emergency HEAP is administered by community action agencies and is
 provided to low-income customers who have been disconnected from their heating
 source, have received a disconnection notice or have less than a 10 day supply
 of bulk fuel.  The application deadline is April 13.
     Project THAW is administered by Ohio Job and Family Services through their
 county-based offices.  This project provides a one-time home heating benefit
 of up to $250 to assist with this winter's high home heating costs.  Eligible
 consumers must be at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty guideline.
 The application deadline is April 30.  The toll-free number for Project THAW
 application information is 1-866-901-6446.
     PIPP is an extended payment arrangement for low-income natural gas and
 electric customers.  The utilities are required to accept payment based on a
 percentage of a qualifying household's income.  Customers are eventually
 responsible for any unpaid portions of their bill, known as an arrearage.  The
 balance is not due until the customer is off the PIPP program.  Eligible
 customers must be at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty guideline and
 can contact their utility company or a local community action agency to apply.
     Several assistance programs are funded through local natural gas companies
 to assist customers in need.  For example, Columbia Gas of Ohio funds
 "HeatShare," a program administered by local Salvation Army organizations to
 provide up to $150 in support to residents at or below 150 percent of the
 federal poverty guideline.  This program will begin on April 16.
 Additionally, the Columbia Gas Emergency Assistance Fund is available to give
 up to $250 of support to customers between 151 and 250 percent of the federal
 poverty guideline.
     Dominion East Ohio funds the "People Helping People Fuel Fund"
 administered by local Salvation Army organizations.  This winter, the utility
 has dropped the low-income requirement for eligibility and can provide up to
 $175 in assistance to customers in need.  Money will remain available until
 funds are exhausted.
     Cincinnati Gas & Electric (CG&E) funds the "HeatShare" program
 administered by local Salvation Army organizations.  Eligibility is need-based
 and funds are still available.
     Vectren Energy Delivery of Ohio funded the "Share the Warmth" program
 administered though community-based agencies.  The program gave income-
 eligible applicants $200 in assistance.  All the available funds are in the
 process of being distributed and no new applications are being accepted.
     Residential utility customers may contact the OCC toll-free at 1-877-PICK
 OCC, their local natural gas utility or the administrators of these programs
 for more details.
     The Ohio Consumers' Counsel (OCC) is the legal representative and
 residential consumer utility advocate serving as a resource for individuals
 who have questions and concerns, or would like more information, about the
 services provided by their publicly owned electric, natural gas, telephone and
 water companies. The agency also educates consumers about utility issues and
 resolves complaints from individuals. To receive utility information
 brochures, schedule a presentation or file a utility complaint, residential
 consumers may contact 1-877-PICKOCC (1-877-742-5622) or visit the OCC website
 at www.pickocc.com .
 
 

SOURCE Ohio Consumers' Counsel
    COLUMBUS, Ohio, April 11 /PRNewswire/ -- With the recent warm weather,
 some natural gas customers may not remember that payment assistance is still
 available to help with the winter season's high natural gas bills. The Ohio
 Consumers' Counsel (OCC), the residential utility advocate, reminds consumers
 that state government and local utility companies have numerous programs
 available to help families pay natural gas bills.  Several important deadlines
 are approaching and consumers are encouraged to find out immediately if they
 meet eligibility criteria to receive assistance.
     "Eligible natural gas customers may be able to receive substantial
 assistance from important programs administered by state government and local
 utilities," said Consumers' Counsel Robert S. Tongren.  "The Ohio Consumers'
 Counsel and the administrators of these programs can provide detailed
 information to help them receive assistance."  Tongren noted that programs
 still have money available, but much is on a first-come, first-served basis
 for eligible applicants.
     Specifically, important programs include HEAP (Home Energy Assistance
 Program), Project THAW (Temporary Heating Assistance for Warmth), PIPP
 (Percentage of Income Payment Plan) and several local utility funds available
 to those in need.
     HEAP is a federally funded program designed to help low-income consumers
 at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty guideline pay for heating
 costs.  There are two parts of the HEAP program.  Regular HEAP is administered
 by the Ohio Department of Development and can provide customers with financial
 assistance.  The application deadline is April 30.  The toll-free number for
 HEAP application information is 1-800-282-0880.
     Emergency HEAP is administered by community action agencies and is
 provided to low-income customers who have been disconnected from their heating
 source, have received a disconnection notice or have less than a 10 day supply
 of bulk fuel.  The application deadline is April 13.
     Project THAW is administered by Ohio Job and Family Services through their
 county-based offices.  This project provides a one-time home heating benefit
 of up to $250 to assist with this winter's high home heating costs.  Eligible
 consumers must be at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty guideline.
 The application deadline is April 30.  The toll-free number for Project THAW
 application information is 1-866-901-6446.
     PIPP is an extended payment arrangement for low-income natural gas and
 electric customers.  The utilities are required to accept payment based on a
 percentage of a qualifying household's income.  Customers are eventually
 responsible for any unpaid portions of their bill, known as an arrearage.  The
 balance is not due until the customer is off the PIPP program.  Eligible
 customers must be at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty guideline and
 can contact their utility company or a local community action agency to apply.
     Several assistance programs are funded through local natural gas companies
 to assist customers in need.  For example, Columbia Gas of Ohio funds
 "HeatShare," a program administered by local Salvation Army organizations to
 provide up to $150 in support to residents at or below 150 percent of the
 federal poverty guideline.  This program will begin on April 16.
 Additionally, the Columbia Gas Emergency Assistance Fund is available to give
 up to $250 of support to customers between 151 and 250 percent of the federal
 poverty guideline.
     Dominion East Ohio funds the "People Helping People Fuel Fund"
 administered by local Salvation Army organizations.  This winter, the utility
 has dropped the low-income requirement for eligibility and can provide up to
 $175 in assistance to customers in need.  Money will remain available until
 funds are exhausted.
     Cincinnati Gas & Electric (CG&E) funds the "HeatShare" program
 administered by local Salvation Army organizations.  Eligibility is need-based
 and funds are still available.
     Vectren Energy Delivery of Ohio funded the "Share the Warmth" program
 administered though community-based agencies.  The program gave income-
 eligible applicants $200 in assistance.  All the available funds are in the
 process of being distributed and no new applications are being accepted.
     Residential utility customers may contact the OCC toll-free at 1-877-PICK
 OCC, their local natural gas utility or the administrators of these programs
 for more details.
     The Ohio Consumers' Counsel (OCC) is the legal representative and
 residential consumer utility advocate serving as a resource for individuals
 who have questions and concerns, or would like more information, about the
 services provided by their publicly owned electric, natural gas, telephone and
 water companies. The agency also educates consumers about utility issues and
 resolves complaints from individuals. To receive utility information
 brochures, schedule a presentation or file a utility complaint, residential
 consumers may contact 1-877-PICKOCC (1-877-742-5622) or visit the OCC website
 at www.pickocc.com .
 
 SOURCE  Ohio Consumers' Counsel