GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., Feb. 23, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- In an innovative approach intended to ultimately provide utility account stability for low income utility customers, Consumers Energy in partnership with The Salvation Army, will create a three-year pilot program with a $1 million contribution. The pilot program will focus on customers experiencing utility account arrearages.
The funding will enable The Salvation Army to hire five case managers: three through The Salvation Army's Kalamazoo location and two through its Jackson location. The contribution will also fund the addition of a case management consultant who will work from Salvation Army Divisional Headquarters in Grand Rapids.
"We are thrilled with the generosity of Consumers Energy and what this contribution will mean to our neighbors in need who are experiencing difficulty in paying utility bills," said Major Thomas Bowers, Divisional Commander for Western Michigan and Northern Indiana. "More importantly, this program provides a way to empower clients to escape from the cycle of recurring need," the Major said.
The new program – the Arrearage Case Management Program -- will require a thorough review of household budgets for each client. That will include setting specific financial goals with their caseworker, thereby better equipping clients to manage financial resources and, in turn, to successfully maintain their energy account. This unique opportunity will allow The Salvation Army to work with Consumers Energy to provide higher touch, longer-term interventions as well as providing a device for measuring and tracking outcomes.
"The opportunity to create a new approach to helping customers by working with a proven and valued partner like The Salvation Army is important to our company and our employees," said John Russell, president and chief executive officer of Consumers Energy. "The Salvation Army in Michigan has a deep understanding of this issue. It serves an average of 20,000 clients per year who are unable to pay the balances on their utility bills. The Salvation Army's social services case management model is an ideal fit for this new initiative."
About The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army, an evangelical part of the universal Christian church, has been supporting those in need in His name without discrimination since 1865. Nearly 33 million Americans receive assistance from The Salvation Army each year through the broadest array of social services that range from providing food for the hungry, relief for disaster victims, assistance for the disabled, outreach to the elderly and ill, clothing and shelter to the homeless and opportunities for underprivileged children. About 83 cents of every dollar raised is used to support those services in nearly 9,000 communities nationwide. For more information, go to http://www.salvationarmyusa.org.
About Consumers Energy:
Consumers Energy, the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy (NYSE: CMS), provides natural gas and electricity to nearly 6.5 million of Michigan's 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties. For more information, go to www.consumersenergy.com
SOURCE Consumers Energy