Utility Assistance Programs



 

Summary of assistance programs available to residential customers.

Assistance programs

There are many assistance programs that are available to residential customers when it comes to their electric, natural gas, telephone or water bills. Below are just a few of the options that customers can utilize for any assistance needs.

If you have specific questions about any of the assistance programs, please contact your utility company or call the PUCO Call Center at (800) 686-7826. You can also submit your questions online here.

30-Day Medical Certificate

Residential customers of PUCO-regulated electric, natural gas, and water utilities who are facing a disconnection for nonpayment may use this form to avoid a utility disconnect for up to 30 days.

The form may be used no more than 3 times in a rolling 12-month period.

The form must be completed by a licensed physician, physician assistant, clinical nurse specialist, certified nurse practitioner, certified nurse-midwife, or local board of health physician and sent to your utility company.

Electric Partnership Program (EPP)

The Electric Partnership Program (EPP) is a home weatherization plan for customer who are at or below the 150 percent of the federal poverty levels. To be eligible for the program, Ohioans must also have 12 months of electric usage at their current address, have an annual electric baseload usage of at least 5,000 kWh, and live in the service territory of American Electric Power, Duke Energy, Dayton Power and Light, or FirstEnergy. Customers who are enrolled in electric PIPP Plus or who are eligible for PIPP and have high energy use will be contacted by an authorized EPP provider.

Extended Payment Plans

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

  • The 1/3rd plan, or Winter Heating Season Plan, is only offered from November 1 to April 15 and requires you to pay 1/3rd of your total account balance each month.
  • The 1/6th plan requires you to pay 6 equal monthly payments on your past due amount in addition to your current monthly bill.
  • The 1/9th plan requires you to pay 9 equal monthly payments on your past due amount in addition to a budget payment plan.

These plans are available to all residential customers regardless of income.

Guarantor

guarantor is a person who has established utility service that guarantees payments from a customer that needs to establish credit with a utility company for either new service or to reestablish service. According to the Ohio Revised Code 4901:1-17-03, the following criteria must be met in order to be a guarantor:

  •  The guarantor shall be a customer of the utility company.
  •  The guarantor demonstrates that he/she is a satisfactory credit risk by means that may be quickly and inexpensively checked by the utility company.

Upon default by a customer who has furnished a guarantor, the utility company may pursue collection actions against the defaulting customer and the guarantor in the appropriate court, or the utility company may transfer the defaulting customer’s bill to the guarantor’s account. The defaulted amount transferred to the guarantor’s account shall not be greater than the amount billed to the defaulting customer for 60 days of service or two monthly bills. After 30 days from the transfer, the utility company may make the guarantor subject to disconnection procedures, if the amount transferred still remains unpaid.

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. These programs are different depending on the utility company and are only offered for electric and natural gas utilities. Names of the Heatshare programs are:

Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP)

Home Energy Assistance Program (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.

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. Ohioans with a household income at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines are eligible for the program.

Patriot Plan

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

Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP Plus)

The Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP Plus), helps make monthly payments more affordable on a year-round basis. And, when a PIPP Plus household pays the 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.

Stay connected with Lifeline

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) urges qualifying low-income residents to apply for Lifeline Telephone Assistance. Lifeline assistance makes basic local telephone service more affordable for income-eligible families across Ohio. Those who qualify could receive discounts for monthly telephone bills and/or installation costs of telephone service. Wireless and broadband providers also offer Lifeline.

Summer Crisis Program

The Home Energy Assistance Summer Crisis Program provides a one-time benefit to eligible Ohioans with cooling assistance during the summer months. The program runs from July 1 to August 31 annually (program dates may vary).

The focus of the Summer Crisis Program is to provide assistance with electric utility bills, air conditioning unit and/or fan purchases and central air conditioning repairs. Households with a household member who is either 60 years of age and older, or has a certified medical condition, and households who have a disconnect notice, have been shut off, or are trying to establish new electric service may be eligible for assistance*.

Ohioans with a household income at or below 175 percent of the federal poverty guidelines and have a member of the household who is at least 60 years old, or can provide physician documentation that cooling assistance is needed for a household member’s health, or households who have a disconnect notice, have been shut off, or are trying to establish new electric service may be eligible for assistance*.

*Program eligibility may each year.

Winter Crisis Program

The Winter Crisis Program is a special component of the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) and is administered by community action agencies throughout Ohio. Heating assistance for income eligible Ohioans available November 1 through May 1. Ohioans with a household income at or below 175 percent of the federal poverty guidelines that are facing disconnection, have been disconnected or have less than a 25 percent supply of bulk fuel in their tank are eligible for the program.

Winter Reconnect Order

The Winter Reconnect Order has been issued by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) on an annual basis  typically mid October through April 15. The order allows residential customers who are disconnected or are threatened with disconnection to pay a maximum amount of $175 to have their service restored or maintained. Any residential customer who is served by a regulated utility company, regardless of income, may use the Winter Reconnect Order, to establish, maintain or restore service. The Winter Reconnect Order may be used once per winter heating season.

Customers that have multiple residential accounts may only utilize the winter reconnection order at their primary residence. All regulated natural gas and electric companies must comply with the Winter Reconnect Order. To see the full list of regulated utility companies in Ohio, click here.