Low income customers of Michigan Gas Utilities have several resources available to them when it comes to paying their electric, heating, and natural gas bills. The amount of funding available on a yearly basis will vary based on government grants, donations, and other factors. Unfortunately not all Michigan Gas Utilities customers will qualify for help, or even if they do qualify there may not be funds available as assistance is distributed on a first come, first serve basis.
State and federal government resources include Low Income Weatherization Assistance Program, Home Heating Credit, and the state of Michigan Winter Protection Plan. Other programs include payment plans and Share the Warmth.
Weatherization Assistance Program provides free home energy conservation services to Michigan Gas Utilities customers, whether they rent or own their home. Individuals can qualify for smoke detectors, caulking, weather stripping, and insulation. Call your local Community Action Agency to apply.
The Michigan Home Heating Credit is administered by the Department of Treasury. The income limits in place will vary from year to year. If you apply and are found to be qualified, the state of Michigan Home Heating Credit may be able to provide financial assistance and credits to individuals to help them pay for their winter heating bills. A number of qualifications need to be met by Michigan Gas Utilities customers, including income, exceptions, number of dependents, and other conditions. Call 517-636-4486
Winter Protection Plan is usually in effect from November to March of each year. It protects low income and seniors customers from a disconnection of their gas service and utilities during this time frame, as it is critical to maintain heating service during the cold winter months.
This plan, which is required to be offered in the state by all energy providers, will ensure that your power is not disconnected if you agree to its terms. To meet the program term, customers will need to pay at least 7% of their estimated annual utility bill each month, plus 1/12 of any past due bills. So some form of payment still needs to be made by families who enroll in the Winter Protection Plan.
There are some exceptions for seniors. These are intended to make it easier for them to qualify. If you are found to be an eligible senior citizen customer of Michigan Gas Utilities and if you participate in the Winter Protection Plan, you will not need to pay your heating bill from November 1 and March 31. That being said, the elderly are strongly encouraged to pay whatever they can towards their energy bills during the winter so they will not have large, unmanageable bills when the protection period ends. As what is not paid during the winter will still eventually need to be repaid to your energy company.
For everyone, whether you are low income or a senior, when the protection period ends in March, all participants will still need to pay the full monthly Michigan Gas Utilities bill plus a portion of what was owed from the winter.
State Emergency Relief Program (SER) is a Crisis Assistance Program that is offered to any Michigan Gas Utilities customer who meets low income standards. It is not a requirement that applicants are a client of the Michigan's Department of Human Services. This emergency program is available year-round to low-income individuals and families that have an electric or heating shutoff notice. Any type of financial aid is also offered for people who need deliverable fuel or heating oil. If you do receive assistance from DHS today, contact your case worker as well for additional information.
Payment Arrangements are available both online and from customer service representatives. If you are struggling to pay your natural gas bills, or have a past-due balance on your account, you can schedule monthly payments to catch up and bring your account up to date.
Some conditions need to be met. They include the customer can’t currently be on a payment plan to pay off a past-due balance. Their gas service must be active. The applicant needs to have not broken a payment arrangement in the last 13 months, and have honored all past agreements with Michigan Gas Utilities. Some of the specific plans targeted at a group of families are as follows.
When you are trying to rapidly set up a payment arrangement to avoid a disconnection, dial Customer Service at 800-401-6402. This can potentially expedite the process and ensure you receive help in short order.
Share the Warmth is a partnership between Michigan Gas Utilities and the Salvation Army. Together they provide financial assistance and cash grants to low income residents who are struggling with paying their energy bills, expenses or who need emergency energy-related expenses.
Most of the funding comes from donations from customers and local businesses. In order to donate, customers can contribute as a one-time donation or on a regular monthly basis. Customer donations are matched by MGU. To apply for Share the Warmth, call your local Salvation Army office.
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