Ohio has issued a winter reconnection order that ensures that any customer who either has their heating or utility service disconnected, or if they are threatened with disconnection, these customers may have their heating, utility or natural gas service restored or maintained. They only need to pay a maximum of $175 on unpaid bills, and also pay a reconnection fee not to exceed $36. Note that this amount due can change from year to year. The $175 payment that a customer makes will also include any security deposit the customer may owe on their account.
In addition, assistance is also available from utility and gas companies, as well as federally and state-funded programs, such as the following Ohio and federal government programs.
HEAP, which is offered by the Ohio Department of Development (ODOD), was created to help income-eligible consumers who are at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. It is mainly offered during the winter months and it will help them pay for their heating costs. Consumers can use this program up to one time per heating season.
The PIPP plan is an income-based payment arrangement where low-income Ohio residents can pay a fixed percentage of their monthly income for their heating bills, electric and / or natural gas service. The natural gas PIPP program is administered by the PUC and the electric PIPP program is administered by ODOD. To be eligible for this program, consumers must be at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty levels. To learn more or to apply for this assistance, consumers should contact their utility company.
If someone is facing a disconnection, they can come up with their own plan and propose a payment arrangement that will work best for them to their utility or gas company. Customers need to take the initiative to offer this and there are no guarantees. They can offer similar terms or approaches when they need their power reconnected.
If the utility or gas company then comes back and decides the proposed plan is unacceptable, they must then provide an option of participating in either the “one-third” winter payment plan (where customers are billed 1/3rd of the total amount that is due each month) or they must offer the customer the “one-sixth” payment plan, in which the customer pays 1/6th of the past due amount along with the current charges of their heating or utility bill.
The budget billing plan, which is also offered by your gas or utility company, will allow consumers to spread their energy bills over a 12-month period. This allows them to have more “uniform” monthly payments and helps them budget. Like all of these programs and options, families or individuals need to contact their utility company to learn more about the budget billing program.
To sign up for the Ohio reconnection program, or any of the other options above, call your utility company and reference these services. In addition, most electric, gas and utility companies that operate in the state offer other grant programs. Read more on Ohio heating and utility bill assistance programs, which are in addition to the resources found here.
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