Help With Paying Your Utility Bills

Assistance is available for both gas and electric bills. The assistance may be in the form of a reduction of your heating bill and/or a set amount based on your income to be paid each month. Eligibility for these programs is usually based on household income.

Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP)

Percentage of Income Payment Plan Plus (PIPP Plus)

Winter Crisis Program

Home Weatherization Assistance Program (HWAP)

Summer Crisis Program

HeatShare Programs

Extended payment plans

Energy assistance for military personnel and their families

Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP)

What is HEAP?

HEAP is a federally funded program administered by the Ohio Development Services Agency (ODSA). It is designed to help eligible, low-income Ohioans meet the high costs of home heating. HEAP pays a one-time payment for most PUCO-regulated utility customers reflecting their usage for the current winter heating season.

Who is eligible?

The total household income of an applicant must be at or below 175 percent of the federal poverty guidelines.

How do I sign up?

Call (800) 282-0880, TDD (800) 686-1557 or write to P.O. Box 1240, Columbus, Ohio 43266-0583. HEAP applications may also be downloaded from the Ohio Development Services Agency website or picked up at community action agencies, post offices, and libraries. Note: Each household should mail only one application. Customers can check the status of their HEAP applications online.

Percentage of Income Payment Plan Plus (PIPP Plus)

PIPP Plus allows eligible customers to make affordable monthly energy payments on a year-round basis. When a PIPP Plus household pays its monthly PIPP Plus payment on-time and in-full, some of their old debt and the rest of that month’s bill goes away in the form of a credit on their utility account.

Who is eligible?

  • Your utility company must be regulated by the PUCO. Duke Energy Ohio, Ohio Gas, Eastern Natural Gas, Pike Natural Gas, and Southeastern Natural Gas will offer a slightly different version of PIPP Plus. If you are a customer of one of these companies, call your company to learn more. Some small gas companies are not required to offer PIPP Plus.
  • You must apply for all energy assistance for which you are eligible
  • You must have a gross yearly household income at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. If you are not eligible based on the 12-month “test,” you may qualify for PIPP Plus based on your income for the most recent 30 days.

What will my monthly payment be?

Electric and natural gas customers who qualify pay $10 or 6 percent of their gross monthly household income, whichever is greater, to the utility company each month. If the utility provides both gas and electric services or if the customer has an all-electric home, the payment is $10 or 10 percent of the gross monthly income, whichever is greater.

How do I sign up for PIPP Plus?

Contact your local energy assistance program provider. You may also enroll in PIPP Plus by completing the Energy Assistance Program application and mailing it to the Ohio Development Services Agency. You must provide proof of your gross monthly household income for at least the last 30 days. To find your local energy assistance program provider or to obtain an application, please call (800) 282-0880.

Will I have to pay a deposit when I sign up?

No. There are no deposits for PIPP Plus households. If you paid a deposit in the past, that amount will be used to reduce any debt you owe the utility company.

When is my first payment due?

Your first payment will be due when you enroll in PIPP Plus. If you are unable to pay at enrollment, the installment can be added to your next monthly bill, but you will be billed for two payments. You will also lose the arrearage credit for the first month.

What are the benefits of paying my PIPP Plus amount on-time and in-full?

When PIPP Plus payments are made on-time and in-full, customers earn an incentive credit and an arrearage credit. Each time you pay your required monthly payment on-time and in-full, you no longer owe the rest of that month’s billed amount. You also receive a 1/24 credit toward any old debt. If you make full, on-time payments for 24 straight months, all of your arrearages will be eliminated.

Will fees be assessed for late payments?

No, but you will not receive the incentive or arrearage crediting benefits that come from paying your PIPP Plus payment amount on-time and in-full.

What do I need to do to stay on PIPP Plus?

Every 12 months you must provide proof that your gross monthly household income is at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level to remain a PIPP Plus customer. At that time, you must also make up any PIPP Plus payments that you missed over the past 12 months. You will have one billing cycle to make up those payments, or you will be removed from PIPP Plus, and your entire bill balance will become due. At that time, your utility may offer you an extended payment plan to help you avoid disconnection.

Can I participate in customer choice and PIPP Plus at the same time?

No. If you are participating in a customer choice program, and then become eligible for and participate in PIPP Plus, you will automatically be switched to the utility. If you were under a contract with a marketer, they may assess an early termination fee if you switch to PIPP Plus before your contract expires.

What are my options if I become income ineligible for PIPP Plus?

Customers who become income ineligible for PIPP Plus, but are current on their PIPP Plus payment, will be placed on Graduate PIPP Plus. This program provides customers with a 12-month transition from PIPP Plus to full payments. Under Graduate PIPP Plus, customers pay an average of their most recent PIPP Plus amount and a budget billing amount calculated by their utility. Graduate PIPP Plus customers who make payments on-time and in-full will continue to receive credits toward their monthly bill balance and a 1/12 credit to their old debt. Some small gas companies are not required to offer Graduate PIPP Plus.

Winter Crisis Program 

A special component of HEAP, the Winter Crisis Program (WCP), is administered by community action agencies throughout Ohio. The WCP provides assistance once per heating season to eligible low-income households that are disconnected, threatened with disconnection or have less than a 10-day supply of bulk fuel. For further information, contact your local community action agency.

Who is eligible?

The total household income of an applicant must be at or below 175 percent of the federal poverty guidelines.

How do I sign up?

Applications for emergency HEAP are accepted through March 31. Contact your local community action agency to sign up.

Home Weatherization Assistance Program (HWAP)

Ohio’s Home Weatherization Assistance Program (HWAP) is a federally funded low-income residential energy efficiency program. The program reduces low-income households’ energy use, thus creating more affordable housing for those in most need. Services include attic, wall and basement insulation; blower-door-guided air leakage reduction; heating system repairs or replacements; and health and safety testing and inspections. All measures are provided based on an on-site energy audit and on cost-effective guidelines developed using the NEAT computerized energy audit. Individualized client education is an important component of the program.

Who benefits from HWAP?

Households at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. Priority is given to Ohioans who are older than the age of 60, those with disabilities, those with children in the home, and households with a high energy usage and/or burden. All families who have received assistance any time during the last 12 months under Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), or Home Energy Assistance (HEAP) (does not include emergency HEAP) are automatically income-eligible for weatherization services.

How do I sign up?

Call (800) 282-0880, TDD (800) 686-1557 or write to P.O. Box 1240, Columbus, Ohio 43266-0583. HWAP applications may also be downloaded from the Ohio Development Services Agency website or picked up at community action agencies, post offices, and libraries. Note: Each household should mail only one application.

Summer Crisis Program

A special component of HEAP, the Summer Crisis Program provides summer cooling assistance for low-income elderly households and for Ohioans with qualifying medical conditions. The program is available July 1 through August 31 and applies to electric utilities only.

What are the benefits?

  • One-time electric bill payment assistance of up to $300 for regulated utilities or $500 for unregulated utilities; and/or
  • The provision of one window air conditioning unit per household (for households that do not have central air and have not received an air conditioning unit in the past three years.)

Who is eligible?

Applicants/households must have a gross annual income of 175 percent of the federal poverty guidelines and meet one of the following criteria:
  • A member who is has an illness that would benefit from assistance, verified by physician documentation; or
  • Have a member of the household who is at least 60 years old

How do I sign up?

Applications for the Summer Crisis Program are accepted from July 1 through August 31. Contact your local community action agency to sign up.

HeatShare programs

The HeatShare programs are administered by the Salvation Army to help qualifying households pay for natural gas bills. These programs typically run from January until May, or until funds are depleted. For more information about the HeatShare program or to receive assistance, please contact your local Salvation Army.

AEP Neighbor to Neighbor Program

Provides eligible customers with a utility assistance grant applied directly to their AEP Ohio bill. This grant helps limited-income customers maintain or restore their basic electric service.

Eligible households must be customers of AEP Ohio, are at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Income Guidelines, have made a sincere effort of payment on their AEP Ohio bill (minimum of $75 in the last 90 days) and have a minimum balance of at least $50. Exceptions for senior citizens will apply.

The Neighbor to Neighbor Program accepts applications for heating assistance from December 1 through April 30 of each year. Customers in need of assistance for cooling can apply from July 1 through August 31. The program will remain available until funding is depleted. Applications will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, contact AEP at (800) 672-2231.

Dayton Power and Light Gift of Power Program

Emergency funding is available to eligible customers who are having difficulty paying their winter heating bills and are at the point of disconnect. Program dates start in January (the day after Martin Luther King Day) and run through April 15 annually. Contact the Salvation Army at (937) 528-5145 (during program dates) to apply or visit for more information.

Columbia Gas of Ohio HeatShare Program

Customers of Columbia Gas of Ohio are eligible for the HeatShare program if they have an annual gross household income at or below 175 percent of the  federal poverty guidelines. Households experiencing unexpected financial hardships may also be eligible for the program, determined on a case-by-case basis. The HeatShare program provides Columbia customers with a one-time assistance grant of up to $250. Customers are only eligible for HeatShare once per year, and the assistance cannot be applied toward security deposits or bills that are not required to maintain service.

Dominion East Ohio EnergyShare Program

The Dominion East Ohio EnergyShare program is designed to provide fuel assistance to pay for any type of winter heating bill. To qualify for the program, customers must live within the Dominion service territory, must demonstrate a personal or family crisis and is a program of last resort. An individual must have a termination notice or have service currently terminated. To receive assistance, the applicant must have their name on the utility account or live at the listed residence. Applications are available after December 31. For more information, contact your local Salvation Army or Dominion East Ohio at (800) 362-7557.

Duke Energy Ohio HeatShare Fuel Fund

Eligibility for the Duke Energy Ohio HeatShare program is based upon need, and households must be subject to disconnection in order to qualify. Eligible customers can receive a one-time assistance payment. For more information, contact the Salvation Army at (513) 721-0795.

Extended payment plans

PUCO-regulated gas and electric companies have the following extended payment plans available to help you to make affordable payments and maintain service:

  • The one-third plan, or Winter Heating Season Plan, is only offered from November 1 to April 15 and requires you to pay 1/3 of your total account balance each month.
  • The one-sixth plan requires you to pay six equal monthly payments on your past due amount in addition to your current monthly bill.
  • The one-ninth plan requires you to pay nine equal monthly payments on your past due amount in addition to your current monthly bill.

These plans are available to all residential customers regardless of income. For more information, contact your utility company. You may also call the PUCO toll-free: Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., EST:

                         (800) 686-PUCO (7826) (voice)

                         7-1-1 (TDD)

Some utility companies may offer other emergency assistance plans. For more information, please contact your utility company.

Energy assistance for military personnel and their families

The Patriot Plan, a program providing protections and benefits to military personnel and their families, can assist qualifying customers with maintaining utility service while serving on active duty. Under the plan, Ohio’s natural gas and electric utilities cannot disconnect the residential utility service of any military reservist or National Guardsman deployed on active duty for nonpayment.

Upon return from active duty, utility companies must offer customers a period of time equal to the length of their deployment to pay any arrearages that may have accumulated. Additional time may be requested by a customer if the amount in arrearages presents a hardship. Utility companies are also prohibited from charging any late payment fees or interest to qualifying customers during the period of deployment or the repayment period.

The Patriot Plan does not apply to career active-duty military personnel serving their regular tour of duty. For additional information regarding this benefit, contact your local utility company or the PUCO at (800) 686-PUCO (7826).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *