Utility Bill Assistance



Government funds for paying utility bills in Indiana

Federal government funds are flowing to Indiana as part of the Energy Assistance Program. Money is used to help low income families in Indiana with paying their heating bills, and this is the state’s main utility bill assistance program. Indiana will normally receive over $50 million in federal government funding per year. As each winter approaches, tens of thousands residents pro-actively seek help with paying their heating bills to avoid disconnection.

The number of applications tend to remain steady. Anywhere from 30 to 40,000 people normally apply for the federally-funded Energy Assistance Program. The Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority oversees it at the state level, and they state that low income and others who qualify can apply for assistance until the winter heating season ends in mid March. Or they can apply until government funding runs out, whichever is sooner. Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority distributes the federal aid.

Each year funding changes. In some years, grants are a little tight so the state might run out of funding a little bit early, so apply early if you need help with heating bill. The state will coordinate appointments with your local community action agency in Indiana, as they over see it at the local level.

Thousands of Indiana residents struggle to pay their energy bills during the winter. Most community action agencies expect to help about hundreds of low-income households in their immediate town through the federal assistance program. The locations see people every day who are facing a disconnection.

Many residents get help through this federal-funded program, or they may turn to private sources. Some applicants may also qualify for a total exemption from being disconnected. For example, a winter disconnection moratorium disconnection moratorium that is in place under Indiana law can help needy customers stay connected to their electric and gas providers.

The HEAP program and the moratorium are only one of several measures and utility assistance programs aimed at helping people who cannot afford to heat or fuel their homes during the winter. Even if a customer qualifies for the moratorium, they still should try to work with the utility to set up a payment plan or negotiated settlement. If a consumer can't pay his or her bill in full, he or she should contact the utility, explain his or her personal situation, and try to set up payment arrangements.

For examples, companies like Indiana Michigan Power offer their own relief program.

In general, residents who are within 50 percent of the poverty line are eligible for a credit on their utility or winter gas bill. Also, to qualify for the moratorium you need to be either enrolled in the federally funded Energy Assistance Program or have just signed up.

While the moratorium prevents customers from running out of fuel and/or being disconnected during the winter, at the of the days beneficiaries are still responsible for paying their utility bills and the amount due is not cancelled.




By: Jon McNamara



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