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Michigan heating bill assistance programs.

Government programs, non-profits, and Michigan energy companies all offer heating bill assistance programs. They are available for people who are faced with disconnection or behind on paying their bills. Some of the programs provide direct cash assistance while others can prevent disconnections or help people save money through conservation.

Resources are available for qualified customers of all the state’s primary energy companies. Learn how to get financial assistance from providers such as Michigan Gas Utilities, Consumers Energy, DTE Energy (MichCon and Detroit Edison), and SEMCO Energy. Programs are also offered by some of the “association” type companies, including Michigan Electric and Gas, the Electric Cooperative Association, and Michigan Propane Gas.

State Emergency Relief is required to be offered by all companies and is available across Michigan. It is offered in a crisis or emergency, and provides assistance for a number of energy-related expenses. SER can pay for heating oil or fuel, natural gas, electricity and even repairs for your home or furnace. The applicant must be faced with a crisis, such as past due heating bills or a disconnection notice. Or the family needs to be able to prove their need for repairs to their home or heating system. Call 1-855-275-6424.

Share the Warmth is coordinated by the Salvation Army and many utility companies, including Michigan Gas Utilities, Consumers Energy, and others. It will provide emergency assistance to residents who need help with paying heating bills in a crisis, or who are behind on their expenses. It relies heavily on donations from the community, so call your local Salvation Army center to donate or to apply for help.

Families with a member who is on active military duty are entitled to certain protections. Customers of Michigan utility companies, or their spouses, who are called to full-time active duty may qualify for up to 90 days of shut-off protection. If needed, you can also apply for an additional extension after those 90 days. This is offered whether you use electricity, natural gas, oil, or other sources to heat your home. While it provides residents time to pay their heating bills, they will still be required to eventually pay them, so you are still responsible.




Some counties are supported by the Heat and Warmth Fund (THAW). This is offered to low income customers, including those in the Upper Peninsula, and it can help in an emergency. This is also coordinated by local non-profits and charities, as well as the Salvation Army. Call 1-800-866-8429 to learn more or apply at your nearest corps center.

The Home Heating Credit is available during the winter. It offers government support for paying your heating bills, including natural gas or electricity. The Michigan Department of Treasury makes payments to applicants and also sets eligibility requirements. In general, you will need to meet income levels that factor in the number of members of your household. This is the state’s version of LIHEAP, so eligibility guidelines are loosely tied to that. Be sure to apply for a Michigan Home Heating Credit if you are receiving public assistance, are receiving unemployment compensation, or have a low-income. 1.800.827.4000

The Winter Protection Plan is offered from November to March. It helps the elderly, senior citizens, working poor, and low-income customers by preventing a disconnection of their heating service. You can learn more by calling your local social service office or community action agency.

Weatherization Assistance Program is another federal government supported option. It provides free home energy conservation services, and it can help people save up to a few hundred dollars per year on their heating bills. It is offered to low-income families, seniors, and the disabled in Michigan. Services reduce a homeowners energy use and will therefore lower their monthly utility bills.

Medical Emergency Protection will help those people with a serious medical condition. Many of the beneficiaries are seniors, children, newborns, and the disabled. Qualified customers can receive a continuance of their heating or gas service reconnection. Or if their power is still on, it can help keep it on if a disconnection would threaten the safety or health of a member of their household. Ask your utility company about this service.





Senior citizens should also call their Michigan Office of Services to the Aging (OSA). These are non-profit organizations that have volunteers and professional staff that will advocate on behalf of adults age 60 and over. Or their caregivers can call an aging office for help. Your local office has information on heating bill assistance programs. Many also administer federal government and state of Michigan grant programs. Some centers will have staff that can call your utility company for you, whether it is Detroit Edison or Michigan Gas Utilities, and they will try to mediate a solution or enter you into a payment plan with your energy provider.

The Michigan Earned Income Credit (EIC) may indirectly help you during the cold winter months by giving you a refund on your income taxes. It is only offered if you are currently working.


By Jon McNamara

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