Assistance with Paying Bills

Assistance with Paying Bills

Current Home Heating Assistance Programs
(updated 11-1-19)

Dial 2-1-1 for more information on heating and other human services programs and help.

Home Heating Credit

 

Contact: Michigan Department of Treasury, 517-636-4486

Apply for a Home Heating Credit (HHC) for the 2019 tax year to help pay winter heating bills if you meet the listed household income guidelines and exemptions. You may claim an exemption for yourself, your spouse, and other dependents. Additional exemptions may also be available.  HHC is supported by the Federal LIHEAP.

Forms are generally available in mid to late January where tax forms can be found.  Call Treasury at (517) 636-4486, or visit its website at www.michigan.gov/treasury. Some local agencies or utility companies may provide assistance in completing the form due no later than September 30 each year.  To find an agency that assists with tax preparation, contact 2-1-1.

Customers of utilities regulated by the Michigan Public Service Commission receive protection from shutoff of their heating fuel service from the time of filing of HHC form with Treasury until the time Treasury issues the credit. However, you must contact your utility company to let it know you filed for the HHC. Keep a copy of the HHC form you file with the number of exemptions claimed and the amount of the credit to use when requesting the status of your application. You will still be required to pay for the electric and natural gas services used during the shutoff protection period.

Exemptions

Minimum Income

0-1

$13,739

2

$18,601

3

$23,463

4

$28,325

5

$33,187

6

$38,049

add $4,862 for each additional exemption

State Emergency Relief Program 
Contact: Michigan Department of Health and Human Services through their website at michigan.gov/mdhhs.

State Emergency Relief (SER) is a crisis intervention program that provides assistance for energy-related expenses such as heating fuel, electricity and home repairs.  SER is supported by the Federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

Eligibility is based on one of the following:

  • Demonstration of immediate need (past due/shutoff notice)
  • Declared need for a deliverable fuel such as propane
  • Verified need for energy-related home repair
  • Income
  • Assets

Apply online using MI Bridges: http://michigan.gov/mibridges

Need help applying? https://newmibridges.michigan.gov/s/isd-find-community-partners

Low-Income Home Weatherization Assistance Program
Contact:  Bureau of Community Action and Economic Opportunity .

Michigan’s Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) is a federally funded, low-income residential energy conservation program providing free home energy conservation services to eligible homeowners and renters with a household income at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. You are also eligible if you participate in the Department of Health and Human Services Family Independence Program or receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI). These weatherization services can help reduce energy use and lower utility bills.

If you qualify, a trained inspector will assess your home and determine which measures will be the most beneficial for you. Measures may include adding caulking and weather stripping; wall, basement, and attic insulation and ventilation; and smoke detectors. Contact your local Community Action Agency or go to mcac.memberclicks.net/agency-locator-map for more information or to find the community action agency in your area. For additional information on saving energy and money, visit www.energy.gov/energysaver.

MI Energy Assistance Program (MEAP)

Once a State Emergency Relief application has been submitted, additional assistance can be sought through agencies that provide MEAP energy assistance programs that include services that will enable participants to become or move toward becoming self-sufficient, including assisting participants in paying their energy bills on time, budgeting for and contributing to their ability to provide for energy expenses, and assisting participants in being energy efficient.

Need help applying for State Emergency Relief? Find a MI Bridges Navigator near you: https://newmibridges.michigan.gov/s/isd-find-community-partners, or contact 2-1-1.

The MEAP is supported by the state’s Low Income Energy Assistance Fund (LIEAF).  An electric utility that chooses not to collect for the LIEAF shall not shut off service to customers for non-payment between November 1 and April 15.  HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative is participating in the LIEAF program for 2019-2020. 

Michigan Veterans Trust Fund Emergency Grant Program
Contact: 517-284-5299 or michiganveterans.com

The Trust Fund provides temporary assistance to veterans and their families facing a financial emergency or hardship, including the need for energy assistance.

United Way 2-1-1
2-1-1 is a one-stop, around-the-clock free phone and online service that links people with information or agencies that can help with utility assistance and other needs such as rent payment help, child and elder care, emergency shelters, job training, counseling, etc. Simply dial 2-1-1 on your phone or visit mi211.org and click Search Resource Database to get connected to available services.

Shutoff Protection Programs

Medical Emergency Protection
Contact: HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative at 800-562-8232

You can receive a medical hold preventing service from being shutoff for nonpayment on your electric bill for up to 21 days if you, or a member of your household, has an existing medical condition that would be aggravated by the lack of utility service.

Your condition must be certified by a physician or public health office on a Michigan Public Service Commission approved Medical Certification Form. The form must state the medical condition, medical equipment and specific time period a shutoff of utility service would make the medical condition worse.

If the shutoff of service occurred before a medical emergency is approved, HomeWorks will restore service at no cost to you for 21 days. You can obtain an extension of the medical hold and a postponement of shutoff of service for a total of 63 days (three separate medical holds) in any 12-month period per household member. Annually, HomeWorks is not required to grant shutoff extensions totaling more than 126 days per household.  Members would be granted a three-business day grace period from shutoff of utility service for time to have the Medical Certification Form completed.  HomeWorks will not require payment for an after-hours reconnect fee or a deposit as a condition of restoring service.  The Medical Certification Form is available at www.michigan.gov/mpsc.

Active Duty in the Military
Contact: HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative at 800-562-8232

If you or your spouse is the HomeWorks member of record and either of you are called to full-time active military service, by the President of the United States or the Governor of Michigan, during a national or state emergency or war, you may apply for shutoff protection of your electric or natural gas service for up to 90 days. You may also reapply for extensions of this protection. HomeWorks may request verification of active duty status. In addition, you must notify HomeWorks when your status changes. Contact HomeWorks to set up a payment plan for all past due amounts to be paid within twelve months. You will still be required to pay for services used while in the program.

Critical Care Protection
Contact: HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative at 800-562-8232

A member or household can receive protection from disconnection or have services restored due to inability to pay if there is an identified critical care customer in the home and interruption of service would be immediately life threatening.  A critical care customer is somebody who requires home medical equipment or a life support system that must be certified by a physician or public health office on a Michigan Public Service Commission approved Medical Certification Form. Customers would be granted a three-business day grace period from shutoff of utility service for time to have the Medical Certification Form completed. You will be contacted by HomeWorks when any scheduled service interruptions occur. The utility will also notify you before any remote shutoff of utility services. If critical care status changes, you, or a person in your household, must let the utility know of the status change.  However, if a person’s status does not change, you must submit an updated Medical Certification Form to HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative on an annual basis. The Medical Certification Form is available at www.michigan.gov/mpsc

Winter Protection Plan (WPP)
Contact: HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative at 800-562-8232

The Winter Protection Plan protects enrolled seniors (age 65 and older), and low-income members whose annual household income is at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level, from service shut-offs and high utility bill payments during the heating season (Nov. 1 – March 31). You may also enroll if you receive any of the following services:

  • Department of Health and Human Services cash assistance, including Supplementary Security Income (SSI),
  • Food Assistance, or
  • Medicaid

If you are low-income, you must pay at least seven percent of your estimated annual bill each month during the protection period. If an arrearage exists at the time you apply for shutoff protection, you must pay the arrearage in equal monthly installments between the date you apply and the start of the next heating season.

If you are low-income and your utility service was shutoff before you applied for shutoff protection, the utility cannot require a fee, a security deposit nor an amount greater than one–twelfth of your arrearage in order to restore service or participate in the program.

All members 65 or older are eligible regardless of income.  However, you are responsible for all service used.  At the end of the protection period, all members must arrange to pay the outstanding bills before the next heating season. If you are a senior citizen whose utility service may have been shut off before applying for the WPP, HomeWorks will restore your service during the heating season without any payments. Although no specific payments are required during the heating season, you are encouraged to pay what you can to avoid large payments when the protection period ends.

Participation does not relieve you from the responsibility for paying for electricity usage, but does prevent a shutoff during the winter months. At the end of the protection period, both low-income members and seniors participating in the plan must arrange with HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative to pay any money owed before the start of the next protection period.

NOTE: Winter shutoff protections do not apply to members who have had service shutoff, or who had a pending shutoff for unauthorized utility service within the past two years at the member’s current address, until all charges are paid or the member makes satisfactory payment arrangements with HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative.

Number of
Household Members

150% Poverty Guidelines
Maximum Income

1

$18,735

2

$25,365

3

$31,995

4

$38,625

5

$45,255

6

$51,885

7

$58,515

8

$65,145

add $6,630 for each additional household member

Note: The account holder who is an eligible senior citizen, age 65 and older, is protected from disconnection of service during the heating season (November 1 through March 31) at the member’s documented personal residence.  HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative will restore service for the member during the heating season without payment of the amount due, deposits, reconnection fees, or other charges.   At the end of the heating season, the account will be placed on a payment plan and payment must begin immediately.  Contact HomeWorks directly to enroll on the WPP.  

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