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Company, government assisting with gas service

11/7/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Maria Lindsay

GREATER AKRON — Dominion East Ohio is reminding customers of available company payment plans and government energy assistance programs designed to help them maintain winter natural gas service.

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) has issued its annual Winter Reconnection Order, which allows any Dominion residential customer to restore service or avoid a shutoff between now and April 15, 2014, by paying $175, according to Dominion officials.

Under the order, customers who have had service disconnected for nonpayment can have their service restored by paying the amount they owe Dominion or $175, whichever is less, company officials added. A reconnect fee of $33 plus applicable taxes also will be billed to the account if the service has been disconnected.

There is no income eligibility requirement to use this program, and customers will be enrolled in a payment plan to help pay off any past-due balance, according to company officials. The reconnection plan can be used only once between now and April 15, 2014. To use this reconnection plan, customers should contact Dominion at 800-362-7557.

Company officials suggest customers who know they will not be able to maintain regular payments contact them immediately to inquire about payment plans and energy assistance programs.

Dominion offers the following payment options to residential and small commercial customers using less than 500 thousand cubic feet (Mcf) a year: Budget Billing, Current-Plus Plan, One-Ninth Plan, Under the One-Third Winter Heating Plan, Short-Term Extension and a Medical Certification. For more information on any of these plans, call Dominion.

Government assistance programs

The following programs are available for income-eligible customers. Customers can apply for all programs with one application at www.energyhelp.ohio.gov. Applications also are available at post offices and libraries or by calling 800-282-0880.

  • Winter Crisis Program: This statewide program can provide income-eligible households a one-time payment to help avoid a shutoff or to restore service due to nonpayment. Call 800-282-0880.
  • PIPP Plus: This special payment plan, developed by PUCO, is available to customers with total household incomes at or below 150 percent of federal poverty guidelines. Under PIPP Plus, participating customers may maintain their natural gas service by paying 6 percent of their total gross monthly household income, or $10, whichever is greater.
    PIPP Plus has special benefits for participating customers. Each time customers make their required PIPP Plus monthly payments in full by the due date, Dominion will credit their account for the rest of that month’s current charges, plus a 1/24th credit toward their prior account balance. After 24 months of on-time and in-full PIPP Plus payments, their accounts would become current.

Along with lower payments and balance crediting, PIPP Plus also carries the following responsibilities:

√ Customers will have 30 days from their PIPP Plus anniversary date to make up any missed payments or they will be removed from the plan.

√ Income-eligible customers interested in re-enrolling or maintaining participation in PIPP Plus must pay any remaining plan arrears in excess of $175, with their first bill following the $175 payment.

√ If participating customers do not reverify their gross monthly household income once every 12 months, they will be removed from PIPP Plus.

√ Customers who no longer meet PIPP Plus income guidelines and still have a balance can enroll in the Graduate PIPP program. This plan allows any outstanding balance to be paid within 12 months of leaving the PIPP Plus plan. Incentive credits also are applied for on-time and in-full payments.

PIPP Plus maximum yearly household gross income maximum levels for the 2013-14 heating season are up to: $17,235 for one person; $23,265 for two people; $29,295 for three; $35,325 for four; $41,355 for five; $47,385 for six; $53,415 for seven; and $59,445 for eight. Add $6,030 for each additional person.

Other energy assistance programs

  • The Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) provides a one-time credit for heating bills for residential customers whose incomes are no more than 175 percent of federal poverty guidelines. To qualify, a customer’s yearly gross household income can be up to $20,108 for one person; $27,143 for two people; $34,178 for three; $41,213 for four; $48,248 for five; $55,283 for six; $62,318 for seven; and $69,353 for eight. Add $7,035 for each additional person. Call 800-282-0880 for application information or go to www.energyhelp.ohio.gov.
  • The Home Weatherization Assistance Program (HWAP) is a federally funded program that provides grants for home weatherization projects to customers whose incomes are no more than 200 percent of federal poverty guidelines. To qualify, a customer’s yearly gross household income can be up to $22,980 for one person; $31,020 for two people; $39,060 for three; $47,100 for four; $55,140 for five; $63,180 for six; $71,220 for seven; and $79,260 for eight. Add $8,040 for each additional person.
  • Dominion EnergyShare is a last-resort program after all other state and federal assistance is exhausted. The Salvation Army administers the Dominion-funded program. It is available to Dominion customers with a shut-off notice or whose utilities have been disconnected. Applications can be made Dec. 1. Customers should contact their local Salvation Army Corps for more information or to schedule an appointment.
  • The Dominion-funded Housewarming Program also provides weatherization assistance to help eligible customers reduce their energy usage. For information, call the Cleveland Housing Network (CHN) at 888-377-3774.
  • Home Performance with Energy Star (HPwES) is an energy conservation program to help customers that exceed Housewarming income eligibility requirements. Participants receive a home energy assessment, make improvements and apply for rebates. For more information, contact GoodCents at 877-287-3416 or visit www.DEOHPwES.com.

For more information about any program, visit www.dom.com or call 800-362-7557 weekdays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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