Customers that are struggling to pay their CLECO energy bills have access to several different programs. They range from direct financial assistance from the company to government benefits such as LIHEAP. The utility provided will try to find some type of solution to a hardship being faced by a low income family.
The CARE program, also known as Cleco Alternative Rate for Electricity, is a discount program for income qualified customers. It operates during July, August and September and those who qualify may receive up to a 25 percent discount on their monthly bills. All applications for this are processed by your local Louisiana community action agency, so they need to be contacted for an application.
When applying for CARE, also inquire into other savings programs, such as weatherization. The reason being is that may of the same income conditions are in place. Also, low income customers, seniors and the disabled who apply and are accepted for LIHEAP grants will automatically be approved for the CARE discount.
CLECO Power of Sharing Fund uses donations in an effort to help with paying utility bills. This program, which use to be called the Energy Fund, is focused on economically disadvantaged disabled and/or senior citizens in their service territory. Monies and contributions that are collected through the fund are used to assist with the purchase of fans and blankets, can pay energy or cooling bills, weatherize homes, and even make minor repairs to cooling or heating units.
In order to apply, any type of financial assistance provided by the fund is distributed through the Louisiana Association of Councils on Aging or a community action agency. Call your local Council on Aging. They will often have information on other senior assistance programs in Louisiana.
The Louisiana Emergency Deferred Billing Program is for very special situations in which the Public Service Commission declares an energy emergency. If this happens, a portion of an energy bill can be deferred for up to 12 months.
While there are conditions and limits in place, this can in effect provide customers more time to pay any balance on their account. So the Deferred Billing Program is an option to consider when the Public Service Commission allows it.
Some of the application conditions include it is only for those whose income does not exceed 150 percent of the federal government poverty level. Cleco customers that have a sole income of Social Security payments or TANF - Temporary Assistance for Needy Families may also qualify. Another key beneficiary are individuals who are certified by a doctor as needing -sustaining medical treatment that requires electricity or life-sustaining, electrically operated equipment.
After eligibility for a deferment is established, customers may receive help on their most recent utility bill that is not past due. This will also continue on a recurring, monthly basis.
Credit Extension Agreement is another assistance program that provides qualified customers additional time to pay any balance on their account. This particular option is for non-emergency situation. This is restricted as well, and Cleco does not need to offer this or they can cancel a Credit Extension Agreement.
The CLECO Levelized, or the Managed Billing Plan, will set your utility bill based on a 12 month average. Each and every month the average of your bill will need to be calculated, and it is rounded to the next dollar amount. An annual adjustment, or true up, is made to the average bill amount each month to avoid overpayment or underpayment. This is only available for customers that are in good standing on their account. Call 1-800-622-6537.
There are various State and Federal assistance programs that Cleco customers can benefit from as well. Most of those are run by local non-profits, such as community action agencies or organizations such as the Salvation Army.
Weatherization, which is referenced above, is one program. It is a free conservation type service for both homeowners and tenants. Another is LIHEAP, or the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. This has both regular and crisis grants that can be issued to help pay a portion of a utility bills. There may also be other government benefits available at your local Louisiana Department of Children & Family Services office.
For more details on these, or other options such as payment plans/programs, call 1-800-622-6537 to reach a Cleco customer service representative.
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