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By Renee Summers
Telegram Reporter 

Help is Available For Anyone Struggling with High Energy Bills

 

December 29, 2022

If high energy bills have you stressed this winter, there is help available in southeast Michigan.

Winter time in Michigan is no time to be worrying about how to get that high gas or electric bill paid. There are many agencies and programs available to help with paying your winter energy bill. Some are general public assistance programs, some are income-qualified, some are emergency assistance programs, and some are aimed at helping senior citizens prevent utility shut-off. Read on for a brief guide of some of the assistance that is available and how to access those programs.

Michigan 2-1-1 is a free service that links people with agencies and programs that can provide energy payment assistance or other needs. Calls are confidential and answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Dial 2-1-1 or go to http://www.mi211.org.

State Emergency Relief (SER) is a year-round resource to assist income-qualified households with a heat or electric past-due notice, shut-off notice, or need for deliverable fuel. Apply online at http://www.newmibridges.michigan.gov. If you require assistance applying for this program,contact 2-1-1 to be connected to an agency that will be able to help.

The Michigan Veterans Trust Fund provides temporary assistance to eligible veterans and their families for energy assistance or other emergency needs. To find out more call 800-642-4838 or go to http://www.Michiganveterans.com

The Heat and Warmth Fund (THAW) is an independent non-profit agency dedicated to helping those who are unable to pay a current or outstanding energy bill and are facing financial hardship. The agency works with partner to prevent disruption of gas, electricity or water services. THAW administers the Michigan Energy Assistance Program (MEAP) which provides direct bill payment assistance for heat and electricity for low-income Michigan residents. Call 800-866-8429 or go to http://www.thawfund.org.

The Society of St. Vincent De Paul Detroit offers assistance with past-due heat and energy bills along with rent payments. Find out more by calling 313-393-2930 or go to http://www.helpwithmybill.com.

Consumers Energy has two programs aimed at those who rely on home medical equipment. The Medical Emergency Protection Program is for households with someone who has a documented medical condition requiring home medical equipment or life support. This program prevents shut-off of utilities for up to 21 days with the possibility of extension under qualifying circumstances. The Critical Care Protection Program is for those with medical equipment or life support equipment who face an imminent shut-off which would be life threatening. Customers will receive a grace period of three business days form shut-off of utility service which will allow for the completion of the Medical Certification form, which is required for both programs and can be found at http://www.ConsumersEnergy.com/lifesupport. Both programs require certification by a physician or public health official.

Consumers Energy also has a program aimed at senior citizens. Customers of Consumers Energy who are 65 or older can enroll in the Winter Protection Plan which will guard against shut-off and high payments during the winter months. Enrollment starts November 1 and runs through March 31. An initial down payment is required and from November through March, customers will pay only 7% of their estimated annual bill along with a portion of any past due amount. In April, the bill is reconciled for the winter months and customers pay 9% of their estimated annual bill plus a portion of past due balance. To find out more contact Consumers Energy at 800-477-5050 or go to http://www.consumersenergy.com.

 

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