Summer energy assistance programs for low-income customers

The Choose Energy Team
By The Choose Energy Team June 19th, 2019
For business

No matter how you slice it, the summer of 2018 was brutal in Texas. How brutal? In Dallas-Fort Worth, temperatures exceeded 100 degrees on 23 days. The Energy Reliability Council of Texas, which runs the state’s electricity grid, says this summer won’t be as hot as 2018. The key words there: as hot. From its official prediction: “Summer 2019 could rank in the mildest third of summers this decade, yet rank in the hottest third of summers all-time.”

The forecasts say July could be particularly warm, which isn’t good news for the state’s poorest residents. Whether there’s heat radiating off the pavement or snow falling from the sky, no household should go without energy to regulate the temperature inside – even when residents can’t afford your monthly bill. That’s why ChooseEneregy.com has compiled a list of various federal and local energy assistance programs available to low-income customers to help them power their homes through any kind of weather.

If you’re a resident of Texas, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, or Connecticut and expect trouble paying your monthly utility bill this summer, check out the list below to see which energy assistance programs may be available to you.

Texas programs

Low-income Texans face a particularly hot summer. Rates are sky-high because of uncertainty over the state’s electricity reserves. As the temperatures climb, prices likely will continue to climb as well. Following are programs that could offer help:

Comprehensive Energy Assistance Program – CEAP is a federally funded program that offers the following types of assistance to customers in need:

  • Bill payment assistance.
  • Energy crisis assistance.
  • Weatherization and energy-related home repairs.

Eligibility criteria and benefits vary by state. You can view state-specific criteria, including household income requirements, and apply by selecting your state from the list here.

Weatherization Assistance ProgramWAP is a federally-funded program that provides grants to states, territories, and some Native American tribes to improve the energy efficiency of low-income homes. Services provided by the grant can include upgrading homes with the latest energy technology or conducting minor repairs. Click here to check eligibility criteria for your state, including income requirements, as well as services offered.

Senate Bill 1976Texas utilities may provide a benefit to their low-income customers who are already in the supplemental nutrition assistance program or on Medicaid. To be eligible, the name of the program participant must match the name on the electric bill. Contact your utility directly to see whether it participates and if so, what discount it offers.

Provider-Specific ProgramsTexas energy providers offer various energy-assistance programs to assist low-income customers with their bills. Find your provider in the list below to see which programs it offers:

  • Atmos Energy
    • Sharing the Warmth: Customer and company donations go directly to those in need to help pay natural gas bills.
  • Austin Energy
    • Customer Assistance Program Discounts: Assists low-income customers who are receiving other public assistance benefits; can help reduce utility bills by an average of $650 a year.
    • Financial Support Plus 1: Provides emergency financial aid to customers who are having a temporary problem paying their utility bills.
    • Weatherization Assistance: Provides free energy improvements and upgrades for low- and moderate-income customers.
  • Central Texas Electric Cooperative, Inc.
    • Operation Round Up: Allows utility customers to “round-up” their bill to the nearest dollar to help those in need pay their bills.
  • Comache Electric Cooperative
    • Operation Round Up: Allows utility customers to “round-up” their bill to the nearest dollar to help those in need pay their bills.
  • CPS Energy
    • Residential Energy Assistance Partnership: Provides up to $400 annually to customers who need help paying their utility bills.
  • Denton Municipal
    • Budget Billing: Allows utility customers to pay the same amount each month, regardless of the weather, based on projected usage.
  • El Paso Electric
    • Project Care: Assists customers with financial emergencies pay their electric bill.
    • Payment Arrangement: Establishes a temporary payment program designed to assist customers during financial crisis.
    • Budget Billing: Allows utility customers to pay the same amount each month, regardless of the weather, based on projected usage.
    • Texas Low-Income Rider: Waives the $5 service charge for low-income customers.
  • Entergy
    • The Power to Care: Provides short-term utility bill assistance to low-income, elderly or disabled customers in times of financial crisis.
  • New Braunfels Utilities
    • Utility Bill Assistance Program: Provides aid to customers in NBU’s service area who are experiencing extreme hardship and financial need.
  • Reliant Energy
    • Community Assistance from Reliant Energy Program: Provides a one-time annual donation to help pay for electricity during financial crisis.
    • Beat the Heat: Supplies electricity to public locations in Corpus Christi, Dallas and Houston where residents who want to minimize home electricity usage can go during the summer.
  • Sam Houston Electric Cooperative
    • Helping Hands: Provides funding to customers in financial and/or physical distress in order to pay their utility bill.
  • San Bernard Electric Cooperative
    • Operation Round Up: Allows utility customers to “round-up” their bill to the nearest dollar to help those in need pay their bills.
  • South Plains Electric Cooperative
    • Operation Round Up: Allows utility customers to “round-up” their bill to the nearest dollar to help those in need pay their bills.
  • United Cooperative Services
    • Operation Round Up: Allows utility customers to “round-up” their bill to the nearest dollar to help those in need pay their bills.

Massachusetts programs

Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program – LIHEAP is a federally-funded program that offers the following types of assistance to customers in need:

  • Bill payment assistance.
  • Energy crisis assistance.
  • Weatherization and energy-related home repairs.

Eligibility criteria and benefits vary by state. You can view state-specific criteria, including household income requirements, and apply by selecting your state from the list here.

Weatherization Assistance ProgramWAP is a federally funded program that provides grants to states, territories, and some Native American tribes to improve the energy efficiency of low-income homes. Services provided by the grant can include upgrading homes with the latest energy technology or conducting minor repairs. Click here to check eligibility criteria for your state, including income requirements, as well as services offered.

Arrearage Management ProgramsMassachusetts natural gas and electric utility providers can work with you to establish a structured payment plan and may forgive some past due balances if payments are made according to schedule. To apply, contact your gas or electric utility provider.

Good Neighbor Energy FundThe Good Neighbor Energy Fund is available to any Massachusetts resident who cannot pay a monthly energy bill due to temporary financial difficulty and is not eligible for state or federal assistance. Household income must be between 60 and 80 percent of the state’s median income.

MassSAVE – Participating Mass Save electric and natural gas utilities and energy efficiency service providers have partnered with the Massachusetts Community Action Program Agencies and Low-Income Energy Affordability Network to offer low-income customers practical ways to save on their energy bills. Energy efficiency services provided at no-cost through the program may include installation of energy savings products, energy evaluations, and weatherization upgrades such as adding insulation or sealing drafts.

Utility DiscountsMost gas and electric companies have low-income discount programs that as a Massachusetts resident, you can automatically qualify for if you are receiving other types of public assistance. These discounts range from 25 percent to 35 percent on each bill. To apply, call your utility and ask for an application.

Utility Shut-Off ProtectionUnder certain circumstances, utilities in Massachusetts are not allowed to shut off your power, even for non-payment. In order to qualify for shut-off protection, you must be unable to pay your bill because of financial hardship and certify to one of the following circumstances:

  • Everyone in the household is over 65
  • All adults living in the home are over 65 and a minor child resides in the home
  • You or someone who lives in the home is seriously ill
  • There is a child under the age of one living in the home

Eligible customers should contact their utility directly. Massachusetts also sets winter moratorium every year from November 15 to March 15, during which utilities are not permitted to shut off service due to inability to pay.

New York assistance

Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program – LIHEAP is a federally-funded program that offers the following types of assistance to customers in need:

  • Bill payment assistance.
  • Energy crisis assistance.
  • Weatherization and energy-related home repairs.

Eligibility criteria and benefits vary by state. You can view state-specific criteria, including household income requirements, and apply by selecting your state from the list here.

Weatherization Assistance ProgramWAP is a federally-funded program that provides grants to states, territories, and some Indian tribes to improve the energy efficiency of low-income homes. Services provided by the grant can include upgrading homes with the latest energy technology or conducting minor repairs. Click here check eligibility criteria for your state, including income requirements, as well as services offered.

Assisted Home Performance with ENERGY STARThis program helps low-income households lower their energy bills by providing a 50 percent discount for eligible energy efficiency improvements — up to $4,000 per project for single-family homes. Click here for more information.

EmPower New YorkEmPower New York provides low-income New Yorkers with free energy efficiency solutions. If eligible, a contractor will conduct an energy assessment of your home to see if you qualify for free upgrades such as air sealing, insulation installation, or appliance and lighting replacement.

Pennsylvania help

Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program – LIHEAP is a federally funded program that offers the following types of assistance to customers in need:

  • Bill payment assistance.
  • Energy crisis assistance.
  • Weatherization and energy-related home repairs.

Eligibility criteria and benefits vary by state. You can view state-specific criteria, including household income requirements, and apply by selecting your state from the list here.

Weatherization Assistance ProgramWAP is a federally funded program that provides grants to states, territories, and some Native American tribes to improve the energy efficiency of low-income homes. Services provided by the grant can include upgrading homes with the latest energy technology or conducting minor repairs. Click here to check eligibility criteria for your state, including income requirements, as well as services offered.

Dollar Energy Fund Hardship ProgramThe Dollar Energy Fund Hardship Program assists eligible customers with their gas, electric and water bills. If you qualify, you may receive a one-time grant of up to $500 applied directly to your utility bill. Grants are provided on a first come, first serve basis while funding is available. For eligibility criteria, visit the Dollar Energy Fund website.

Pennsylvania Customer Assistance ProgramsCustomer Assistance Programs help customers maintain electric service and eliminate past-due balances. CAPs may offer reduced bills based on percentage of income or debt-forgiveness credits that are applied directly to customer accounts. Contact your utility for more information.

Connecticut help

Connecticut Energy Assistance Program – CEAP is a federally-funded program that offers the following types of assistance to customers in need:

  • Bill payment assistance.
  • Energy crisis assistance.
  • Weatherization and energy-related home repairs.

Eligibility criteria and benefits vary by state. You can view state-specific criteria, including household income requirements, and apply by selecting your state from the list here.

Weatherization Assistance ProgramWAP is a federally funded program that provides grants to states, territories, and some Native American tribes to improve the energy efficiency of low-income homes. Services provided by the grant can include upgrading homes with the latest energy technology or conducting minor repairs. Click here to check eligibility criteria for your state, including income requirements, as well as services offered.

Matching Payment ProgramConnecticut regulated gas and electric utilities offer matching payment programs to income-eligible customers. These programs help customers maintain service and pay down a delinquent balance by awarding credits when customers make their scheduled payment. Click here for a list of participating utilities and eligibility criteria.

Operation Fuel – Operation Fuel is a charitable program that provides gas and electric assistance to households with incomes at or below 75 percent of the state median income. Local fuel banks determine client eligibility and make payments to vendors.

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