A settlement between Summit County and FirstEnergy, including the power companies of Toledo Edison, Ohio Edison, and Cleveland Electric Illuminating, has created a bill credit assistance program for qualified customers.
Summit County has been offering financial help for residents having trouble paying their electric, heating, or natural gas bills over the last few years. Residents who live in the county and who receive their power from FirstEnergy can qualify for $300 in utility bill credits through the county’s Fuel Fund Assistance Program as part of this settlement.
The county does what it can to advertise this service. Some functions they have held in the past to advertise the assistance include a fuel fund assistance day, which has been held at the Job Center, 1040 E. Tallmadge Ave.
Normally the first number of qualified people who show up can receive help. A number of events are normally held across Summit County if someone can’t make a certain time. To determine a date and location, dial 330-643-2068 for more information on how to qualify and where to go to apply. Low income and struggling customers of FirstEnergy’s utility companies Cleveland Electric Illuminating, Ohio Edison, and Toledo Edison are the only ones eligible, and they may all sign up and potentially be qualified for the assistance program and credits.
In order to qualify for financial assistance from this Summit County Ohio program, residents need to have an active account, have been making a pattern of good faith payments prior to their hardship, and they also need to have a total household income at or below 200 percent of government federal poverty guidelines.
The maximum cash grant allowed per qualified family in most cases is $300, with very few exceptions made. At most $500 will be given out in cases of extreme financial hardship or some unusual circumstances. Also, credits can only be used for electrical usage and cannot exceed the amount due on the utility bill.
Documentation is also required. Individuals will need to bring photo identification; their most recent termination notice or delinquent electric bill; their social security card, and they also need to bring proof of a good faith payment made on their account within the past 90 days to show to Summit County workers.
As part of the settlement, FirstEnergy has set aside roughly $4 million a year from 2012 through 2014 as part of the utility assistance program. All money being provided is part of a 2010 rate settlement agreement that was made according to the Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel.
Summit County has offered similar financial assistance and grants the last three years through a resource known as the Ohio Fuel Fund program. Over 2000 families received help from the Ohio Fuel Fund.
The Summit office of community and economic development expects to see an increasing demand for the emergency cash grants. Most of those who they expect to apply will be using social services or financial assistance for the very first time, mainly due to the weak economy in Ohio.
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