Residential customers in Rhode Island who are struggling with paying their National Grid utility and energy bills can sign up for payment assistance plans, government assistance, and other services. The various programs are focused on the low income and people who are faced with unexpected hardships, such as a layoff or medical crisis.
Federal government aid is available for families in Rhode Island from Fuel Assistance, also known as Low Income Energy assistance (LIHEAP). Working poor and low-income households who are in need of financial assistance or cash grants for paying their energy bills may qualify. Any type of financial aid is usually offered for people who pay a large percentage of their income towards their utilities. The application period for the program will start in November of each year.
The Fuel Assistance program has a number of standards and qualifications that need to be met. The applicant needs to have income that falls within the guidelines of the program. Also, the family will need to have their heating expenses paid directly to National Grid, or it needs to be included in their monthly rent expense.
Required income ranges for receiving financial assistance will be from around $21,000 to $75,000. A key factor is the number of people in the household. For example, the upper limit of $75,000 is for a household of 8 people.
Call your local Community Action Agency in Rhode Island for more information or to apply. All payments made to National Grid customers will be subject to available funds from the government.
National Grid Payment Assistance is offered for people who are falling behind or who can’t afford to pay their bills. The energy provider will offer payment arrangements to qualified low income residential customers with past due balances on their accounts. To explore this option, dial 1-888-211-1313. A representative from the credit department will be put into contact with you to determine your financial situation. If at all possible, they will establish a plan or put you onto a program to address the overdue balance on your account. You will need to abide by all terms or the plan can be canceled, and the individual will eventually need to get on track with paying all of your utility bills.
Balanced Billing or the Budget Plan is not direct cash assistance, but it can still make managing your monthly energy payments easier. It will ensure you are billed the same amount by National Grid every month, and eliminate the summer and winter spikes in your bills. What it does is it will average out your monthly expenses and average it out over the course of the year.
Rhode Island Good Neighbor Energy Fund is offered by the Salvation Army and National Grid. Most other energy and utility companies across the state also participate. It is a program of last resort.
People who are faced with a temporary financial hardship and can’t pay their bills for a certain month are potential applicants. Individuals need to have applied for other financial assistance programs first, like the Fuel Assistance program referenced above.
The number one goal of the Rhode Island Good Neighbor Energy Fund is to provide customers of National Grid with assistance to prevent a disconnection of their service. They need to be faced with a financial crisis, and can’t be qualified for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. Financial crisis includes, but is not limited to, the inability to pay for an electric or gas bill, or deliverable fuel. If you do not qualify for those other options such as LIHEAP and are faced with a crisis, then the Good Neighbor Energy Fund may be able to help.
The applicant must also be able to prove their financial crisis. Some examples of what people face can include unexpected medical bills, loss of a job/reduction of hours, divorce or death of family member who was primary provider, or a disaster such as a fire. Individuals can apply at most once per year.
The maximum amount paid out will be $300 or so. Any assistance paid will depend on program funding and only goes to people who meet income and program terms. In some cases, the Good Neighbor Energy Fund will provide Rhode Island families with support in other ways, such as free heating oil, propane, cords of wood, or similar services. Click here for your local Salvation Army, or call 401-421-0956.
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