Assistance offered for paying heat bills


Thursday marked the first day that area residents who expect to have trouble paying their heating bills this winter could apply for funding through the 2012-2013 Home Energy Assistance Program.

HEAP funding can be used by residents to have service restored through the “Winter Reconnect Order” approved by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, according to state and utility officials.

The reconnect order allows natural gas and electric customers whose service is off for nonpayment, or those who have received disconnection notices, to have their service restored for $175 regardless of the amount they owe. There are no income qualifications for using the reconnect order, which runs from now through April 15.

HEAP is a federally funded program administered by the Ohio Department Services Agency’s Office of Community Assistance.

Funding is available for households at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, which is $46,100 for a family of four.

Census studies indicate that nearly 32 percent of Ohioans — approximately 3.5 million residents — qualify for some form of energy assistance but fewer than half receive funds.

Across northwest Ohio, eligible households total 37 percent of Lucas County residents, 34 percent of Huron, 34 percent of Seneca, 30 percent of Sandusky, 30 percent of Erie, 29 percent of Fulton, 29 percent of Henry, 27 percent of Wood, and 27 percent of Ottawa.

Lucas County residents in need of heat assistance can contact the Economic Opportunity Planning Association at 419-242-7304.

For information on Winter Reconnect Orders, contact the PUCO at 1-800-686-7826.