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Heating Bill Assistance Still Available in Michigan

Programs are available that can help low-income Michiganders who are behind on their electric bills. (Images Money/Flickr)
Programs are available that can help low-income Michiganders who are behind on their electric bills. (Images Money/Flickr)
April 30, 2018

LANSING, Mich. — While spring has arrived in Michigan, some folks still are trying to catch up on their heating costs from winter. And there is still one month left to apply for energy bill assistance through the State Emergency Relief program.

Customer assistance manager with Consumers Energy Whitney Skeans said they have at least 100,000 qualified households among their customer base who have difficulty paying energy bills each year.

"As customers have struggled and as the winter has been treacherous, now that we're into spring, clearly there are opportunities still available,” Skeans said. “There's funding still on the table, and we want to make sure that, while that funding remains, customers are able to access it and to get the help they need."

To qualify for assistance, customers must have a past-due bill and meet income guidelines, which for a family of four is $36,000 or less annually. Local Department of Health and Human Services agencies can help folks apply, or they can go online to mibridges.michigan.gov.

The CARE program - Consumers Affordable Resource for Energy - also is available to help with long-term energy costs. For those who qualify, the two-year payment plan provides catch-up assistance, monthly bill credits and rewards for payment.

Skeans said the program has a proven track record.

"We know that customers are 85 percent or greater successful,” she said. “They are able to maintain payments each month, they are also able to keep their services connected and are able to avoid any anxiety in those situations."

She said collaboration with nonprofit agencies and the state really is helping to ensure customers are able to afford and maintain services.

"The partnership with agencies is critically important,” Skeans said. “There are many programs beyond just getting help with your energy bill that are able to support households to be more stable and to also support a path to self-sufficiency."

Those who receive assistance through the State Emergency Relief program who also receive food assistance also may qualify for expanded food benefits.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - MI